Assistant Attorney-General and Spokesperson for the Mozambican Attorney-General’s Office Taibo Mocubora has that prosecutors will investigate the case of an official of Mozambique Airlines (LAM), so far unnamed, who is said to have received an 800,000 US dollar bribe from the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer.

The bribe became public knowledge on Monday when the US Justice Department announced that Embraer had agreed to pay fines totalling more than 200 million USD for bribing officials in four countries — Mozambique, India, Saudi Arabia and the Dominican Republic.

Under questioning, Embraer admitted that its executives had bribed foreign government officials and had falsified records in connection with its aircraft sales.

The Mozambican connection was paid a bribe of 800,000 USD, paid through what the US Justice Department describes as “a false agency agreement with an intermediary designated by a high-level official” in LAM. The purpose of the bribe was to secure LAM’s agreement to purchase two aircraft from Embraer for approximately 65 million USD.

Mocubora told a media conference here Friday that the US Justice Department statement would be treated like any other source. “From this information, we shall open a preliminary investigation to ascertain the veracity of the facts,” he said.

The Office of the Attorney-General could not simply accept the accusation as fact just because it was in a US Justice Department statement. “There must be an investigation in Mozambique in order to take the appropriate measures,” he added.

Mucobora pointed out that the Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) had already audited LAM in connection with earlier cases. In late September, the GCCC had announced it was prosecuting the former LAM financial director, Jeremias Tchamo, for abuse of office.

He is accused of ensuring that LAM signed 25 contracts with a building company owned by his brother, who was also a LAM employee. LAM paid this company a total of 5.3 million meticais (about 190,000 USD).

During its investigations, the GCCC said it also “became aware of some facts concerning the purchase, sale and hire of two Q 400 aircraft, in a case involving LAM and a foreign company”. The summary analysis of this case “raised suspicions as to the use of the sum derived from the sale of the aircraft”.

The Q 400 is manufactured by the Canadian company bombardier Aerospace. LAM took possession of two of these planes in 2008, the same year that the bribe was paid for the two Embraers.