A Lebanese shipbuilder at the centre of a $2 billion debt scandal in Mozambique said it made payments to its now-president and ruling party in 2014, but said these were legal campaign donations not bribes, according to a London court filing.
Privinvest said payments made to President Filipe Nyusi in the run-up to his election and to the Frelimo party were allowed under Mozambican law, according to the Jan. 15 filing at London’s High Court.
The case relates to a series of tuna fishing, maritime security and shipbuilding projects in which Privinvest was the sole contractor and for which Mozambique borrowed $2 billion between 2013 and 2014, provided or arranged by banks including Credit Suisse. Nyusi was defence minister at the time the projects were agreed.
U.S. authorities say hundreds of millions of dollars went missing in what they described as a front for a bribery and kickback scheme. The scandal prompted donors including the International Monetary Fund to cut off support to Mozambique, triggering a currency collapse and debt default in 2016.
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