MAPUTO– Mozambique’s Attorney-General, Beatriz Buchili, has defended the decision of her office not to publish the full report of the audit of the three State-owned companies which obtained loans totalling more than two billion US dollars in 2013-2014 which were not authorised by Parliament as required under the law.

The loans were approved by two European banks — Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia — for Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management), on the basis of guarantees illegally issued by the government of the time, headed by former president Armando Guebuza.

The scandal of what became known as the hidden debts led the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in April 2016, to suspend its programme with Mozambique. Other western partners followed suit, in particular, the 14 donor countries which had provided direct support to the Mozambican S\state budget, halted all disbursements. Based on previous levels of direct budget support, this is costing Mozambique between 400 and 500 million USD a year.

The IMF made it clear that the basic condition for resuming normal relations was an independent audit of Ematum, Proindicus and MAM. So the Attorney-General’s Office (PGR) hired the company Kroll Associates, reputedly the best forensic audit company in the world, and the Swedish Embassy here paid for the audit.

In June 2017, the PGR published an executive summary of the Kroll audit report, with a promise that in another three months the entire report would be published.

Giving her annual report on the state of Mozambican justice to the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, on Wednesday, Buchili for the first time explained why she had suppressed the full text of the report. She said it contained information that is not yet conclusive which requires complementary follow-up, and also indications the publication of which may prejudice the investigations under way, and risk violating the constitutional principles of sub judice and the presumption of innocence.

The excuse makes no sense, not least because anyone who wants to obtain the full report can easily do so, since it was leaked and is readily available on the Internet.

Buchili summarised the findings of the audit report, noting inconsistencies in the declared purpose of part of the loan, and discrepancies in the prices of the assets and services delivered. Furthermore, despite receiving such huge injections of funds, the three companies are not operating.

Facts had come to light, she said, which indicated that financial offences had been committed. This included the issue of the government guarantees which had allowed the loans to be made in the first place. Those guarantees smashed through the limits on loan guarantees laid down in the 2013 and 2014 state budgets, they had no parliamentary authorisation (and thus violated the Mozambican constitution), and breached the terms of the government’s agreements with the IMF.