MAPUTO, Mozambique’s Attorney-General, Beatriz Buchili, has attacked corruption within the judicial system, admitting that the system has been infiltrated by organized crime.

Addressing the opening session of a national meeting here Thursday between the Attorney-General’s Office (PGR) and the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC), Buchili declared that we cannot fight against corruption and organized crime if we have colleagues who are corrupt and have no integrity.

Corruption, and the infiltration of criminals within our institutions, impairs investigation and also puts the lives of our colleagues at risk, she warned.

She noted that the institutions of justice had a very poor image in Mozambican society, and called on her fellow professionals to overcome this by changing the way they work. We must rescue the trust of citizens in our institutions. It is indispensable that we show respect for citizens, and abandon routine procedures that are in conflict with the Mozambican constitution, she stressed.

This isn’t just another meeting between our two institutions. It is a meeting which should mark the beginning of a new era in criminal investigation.”

She called for a more professional, more scientific approach by the police to criminal investigation. We long for a criminal investigation service that is more dynamic, more scientific, and above all a service that consists of honest people, committed to preventing and fighting crime, she said.

She pointed out that, since criminals had become more sophisticated, investigators must also use more sophisticated tools.

Organized crime, with the characteristics it displays today in the field of economic and financial crime, cannot be fought against effectively with the common or garden techniques we are using today,” she said.

She wanted to see an end to the banking secrecy laws which benefit crime syndicates, and a vigorous attitude to the seizure of criminals’ assets. We should be more daring. We should establish special regimes for collecting evidence, for breaking professional secrecy, and for recovering assets. The State should be compensated for damage it has suffered and, instead of just punishing criminals, show that crime does not pay, added Buchili.

Deputy Interior Minister Helena Kida said the bodies of the administration of justice have a duty to work together to ensure that citizens enjoy the exercise of their rights, freedoms and guarantees.

Buchili’s strong speech is in sharp contrast to her office’s inability or unwillingness to take any action against those responsible for the largest financial scandal in Mozambican history — the illicit government guarantees for loans of over two billion US dollars from European banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia for the three security-related companies Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management).

These loans would never have gone ahead without the government guarantees, issued in 2013 and 2014 under the previous government of former President Armando Guebuza. They were illegal since they smashed through the ceiling on guarantees laid down in the 2013 and 2014 budget laws. The loans added 20 per cent to Mozambique’s foreign debt, pushing it beyond the limits of sustainability.

Although the PGR began an investigation in 2015, so far nobody has been arrested in connection with this scandal, not even the chairperson of the three companies, Antonio do Rosario, who boasted in a message widely circulated over the Internet that he had obstructed the independent audit into Ematum, Proindicus and MAM, and had even thrown the auditors out of his office.