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Former Mozambique FinMin in SA custody pending extradition to US

Manuel Chang is facing fraud charges after signing off secret loans worth $2 billion during his tenure as finance minister between 2005 and 2015.

FILE: Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang speaks at a press conference of African ministers at the IMF/World Bank Annual Spring Meetings in Washington on 21 April 2012. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang has appeared at the Kempton Park magistrates court on Monday.

Police say the 63-year-old was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport while en route to Dubai.

Chang is facing fraud charges after signing off secret loans worth $2 billion during his tenure as finance minister between 2005 and 2015.

Police spokesperson Vish Naidoo tell Eyewitness News that Chang made his first appearance in court on Monday but cannot confirm the outcome of proceedings.

"We arrested him on a warrant issued by the US authorities. He was flagged by a red notice on Interpol. The details on why he was actually arrested, only the US authorities can comment on that."

Chang has been remanded in custody pending extradition to the US.

According to AFP, towards the end of his tenure in 2015 loans to the value of $2 billion were secretly negotiated and signed.

The hidden debt plunged Mozambique into its worst financial crisis since independence in 1975.

Debt soared to 112% of gross domestic product (GDP) by the end of 2017, forcing the country to suspend repayments and rousing distrust from investors.

Donors including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank suspended aid to the impoverished country after the government admitted it had secretly borrowed the $2 billion to fund a coastal protection plan.

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