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Mozambique watchdog wants $2 bln debt relief from ‘guilty’ Credit Suisse

The Swiss bank has been fined over CHF400 million for its role in a corruption scandal in Mozambique. Keystone / Ennio Leanza

A Mozambique public finance watchdog is demanding an estimated $2 billion (CHF1.8 billion) in full debt relief from Credit Suisse, that is ten times more than what Swiss banking giant is willing to write off.

“Credit Suisse’s admission of responsibility, failure to comply with the law (…) and involvement of employees in bribery underscores the legitimacy of FMO’s demand for full cancellation of the illegal debt,” said the Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO), a coalition of civil society groups working on public finance accountability.

The statement was made in response to a settlement reached by the Swiss bank with regulators in several countries over a corruption in Mozambique, Keystone-SDA news agency reported Thursday. There was no immediate comment from Credit Suisse.

On Tuesday, under a settlement reached by US and UK authorities, Credit Suisse agreed to forgive $200 million in debt owed to the African nation.

The charges related to the almost $1 billion in bond offerings and a syndicated loan which Credit Suisse helped to arrange between 2013 and 2016. The funds were destined to finance a state tuna fishing industry and to develop maritime security in Mozambique.

US authorities found Credit Suisse of violating US bribery laws, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday. Much of the so-called “tuna bonds” were diverted via kickbacks to Credit Suisse and Mozambique officials, they said.

In a separate case, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA said it had found “serious organisational shortcomings” in an inquiry into an espionage case at Credit Suisse which broke out two years ago.

* This article was corrected on Oct. 21, 2021. The Budget Monitoring Forum is a coalition of civil society groups working on public finance transparency and accountability. It is not a unit of the Mozambique finance ministry.

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