Mozambique has struck a last-minute deal to end a high-stakes dispute over Credit Suisse’s role in the “tuna bond” corruption scandal, which was set to go to trial in London this week. Formally announced on 2 October 2023, the settlement provides welcome relief for the Mozambican government by writing off significant debts owed to Credit Suisse under a loan agreement with the state-owned company ProIndicus which was tainted by grand corruption and kept hidden from the Mozambican people.
While this partial release from an unjust debt is a positive development for Mozambique, the reality is that it does little to address the scale of the damage caused by this “hidden debt” which devastated Mozambique’s economy, pushed 1.9 million people into poverty, and which will have lasting consequences for generations. The ultimate cost to Mozambique is estimated to be more than $11 billion, or $400 per citizen in a country where the average annual income is $500.
However, these losses will now no longer be pursued by Mozambique in the scaled back London trial. An important consequence of the settlement with UBS is that Mozambique has dropped its lawsuit against Credit Suisse. In a further major development announced on 5 October 2023, Mozambique dropped its claim for macroeconomic loss against the key remaining defendant, the UAE-Lebanese shipbuilder Privinvest.
The London trial will nevertheless proceed in mid-October to decide the remaining claims involving Privinvest and the sanctioned Russian VTB Bank. The case offers a crucial opportunity to get to the bottom of one of the biggest ever bribery scandals and ensure accountability for those involved. The Mozambican people deserve to know who is responsible for the “hidden debt” which has left them bearing the heavy consequences of corruption on a grand scale.