MAPUTO, The Mozambican Catholic Church has added its voice to those demanding that the debts of three State-owned companies — Ematum (Mozambique Tuna Company), Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management) — be declared unconstitutional.

The debts, for a total of just over two billion US dollars were contracted from European banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia in 2013 and 2014 by the government of former President Armando Guebuza. The government of that period issued illicit guarantees, which smashed the ceiling on loan guarantees laid down in the 2013 and 2014 budget laws, and also violated the Mozambican Constitution which states that only the country’s Parliament can authorise such debts.

A statement issued by the Catholic Episcopal Commission on Justice and Peace here Tuesday denounced the debts of the three companies as contracted in a unilateral, illegal and illegitimate way.

The message from the Episcopal Commission, signed by the Bishop of Pemba, Luis Fernando Lisboa, also demands that those who contracted the debts should be held responsible for their actions, as should those who obstructed the audit into Ematum, Proindicus and MAM carried out by professional services company Kroll Associates.

We are surprised that the auditors indicate that they did not receive full collaboration from all those involved in the investigation, putting the brakes on the process, and even refusing to hand over some necessary documents,” said the statement.

In the executive summary of the audit report, released on June 24, Kroll said the three companies only provided limited financial data, including incomplete trial balances and bank statements for certain periods, and incomplete supporting documentation, such as loan facility agreements and supplier contracts.

“As a result, it became apparent that a significant amount of the information originally envisaged to be held by the Mozambique Companies in Mozambique was not available, the auditors said.

Kroll added that it was denied access to full and complete documentation, including internal confidential documents of the parties involved, nor has it met with all key personnel of the parties involved”.

“The main challenge in completing the Independent Audit was the lack of documentation available from the Mozambique Companies. Kroll spent a considerable amount of time requesting and liaising with representatives of the Mozambique Companies to obtain documentation and information that was, in some cases, either ultimately incomplete or not provided at all.