JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa will extradite Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang to his home country instead of to the United States where he faces corruption and fraud charges.
Chang is expected to stand trial in Mozambique on charges of being involved in a $2.2 billion loan scam while he was finance minister from 2005 to 2015.
Chang has been in the custody of South Africa since 2018 when he was arrested at the request of the United States, which has indicted him on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.
Chang allegedly received more than $17 million in kickbacks for approving loans to the Mozambican government for state projects riddled with corruption.
South Africa’s justice minister Ronald Lamola said that Chang would face trial in Mozambique. South Africa had earlier ruled that Chang should face the charges in the U.S. on the grounds that Chang would be immune from prosecution in Mozambique as its former finance minister.
“As the facts stand now, the accused is not immune from prosecution and has been duly indicted by the Mozambican government,” said Lamola’s statement, issued Monday. “The accused will therefore be handed over to Mozambican authorities to stand trial.”
Chang’s legal team would not comment on when he would be sent back to his country and whether he would immediately join 19 co-accused in the trial that started on Monday in Maputo, the capital. Those standing trial include Armando Ndambi Guebuza, the son of former Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, and former senior government officials.
Others included in the U.S indictment include two executives of a shipbuilding company and three former London-based investment bankers who were allegedly involved in getting loans from international banks and investors.