The case pitting Mozambique against bank Credit Suisse before the London High Court is entering its critical stage with British Judge Robin Knowles set to decide on whether it goes on to trial in October 2023 or struck out.
Mozambique’s Attorney-General’s Office (PGR) sued Credit Suisse and others over the $2.2 billion loans obtained from the banks Credit Suisse and VTB Russia by three Mozambican companies, ProIndicus, EMATUM (Mozambique Tuna Company) and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management), with the sole contractor and supplier, the Abu Dhabi-based group Privinvest, selling them fishing boats, radar stations and other assets at exceedingly inflated prices, between 2013 and 2014.
The PGR argued that the loans guarantees were null and void under Mozambican law and demanded compensation to be paid to Mozambique – the three Mozambican companies have gone bankrupt and over a dozen of the people involved in Mozambique have been tried and sentenced.
However, Mozambique has not been forthcoming in disclosing relevant documents to the case from various state entities, leading Judge Knowles to warn in that “if I need to exercise my powers for strike-out to ensure compliance with the Republic’s (of Mozambique) duties and the obligations of this litigation.”
The relevant documents are being held at the Office of the President, SISE (State Information and Security Service) and the Council of State – this is consultation body that comprises former presidents and notable figures in Mozambique.
In his 3 March brief, Judge Knowles said that the High Court was concerned in holding a fair trial as “the parties and the public are entitled to; and it is what the rule of law requires.”
Consequently, the judge has given Mozambique an extension to submit the relevant documents to the court, which are likely to be reviewed in the June and July management meetings.
But Judge Knowles did say that “the potential for striking out to be the final remedy for non-compliance where the fairness of trial is threatened is very real in a case of this nature,“ adding that it was a matter of continuing review until the end of the trial.
Consequently, Judge Knowles did warn that if he needed to exercise his powers to strike out to ensure compliance with Mozambique’s duties and obligations on it in the litigation, he would.
Mozambique Insights learnt that Credit Suisse and others, who are also part of the case, are pressuring Judge Knowles to dismiss the claims, arguing that he has been very lenient with Mozambique.
Consequently, it behoves Mozambique to ensure that it produces all the relevant documents asked by the court and the other parties for the disclosure process.
The question is whether President Filipe Nyusi, who Judge Knowles says is part of the litigation, will give the PGR and other state entities the green light to provide the remaining relevant documents – Nyusi appears to be the stumbling block in the case.
Internally, where he has protected, Nyusi has denied having little knowledge related to the companies, specifically EMATUM and MAM.
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