CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang was extradited to the United States from South Africa on Wednesday to face charges for his alleged role in a $2 billion debt scandal, the South African justice ministry said.

Chang, who has denied wrongdoing, had been detained in South Africa since 2018, when he was arrested at the request of the United States on charges including money laundering and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Mozambique subsequently also requested his extradition, and the two countries fought over possession of Chang via both the courts and diplomatic channels. South Africa’s constitutional court denied Mozambique leave to appeal in a final decision in May.

“The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services confirms that the Republic of South Africa’s law enforcement agencies successfully surrendered Mr Manuel Chang to the United States of America on July 12, 2023,” a ministry statement said.

The U.S. charges relate to loans obtained from Credit Suisse and Russia’s VTB bank that were guaranteed by the Mozambique government and signed off by Chang during his 2005-2015 term as finance minister.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of the money went missing and the projects the loans were ostensibly for never delivered on their promises. U.S. authorities say the borrowing was fraudulent and the projects, spanning tuna fishing, shipyard development and maritime security, a front for an elaborate bribery and kickback scheme.

When the full extent of the borrowing was revealed in 2016, it prompted donors like the International Monetary Fund to cut off support to Mozambique and triggered a currency collapse and debt default.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf and Nellie Peyton; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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