Abu Dhabi’s Privinvest sues Mozambique in debt scandal

The Mozambique Tuna Company (EMATUM) fishing fleet docked in Maputo, Mozambique. (Reuters)
Updated 15 April 2019
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Abu Dhabi’s Privinvest sues Mozambique in debt scandal

  • Privinvest’s claim comes nearly two months after Mozambique named the company in a lawsuit against firms involved in arranging loans meant primarily to fund a fleet of fishing boats
  • Privinvest had signed contracts with Mozambique Asset Management, Ematum and ProIndicus — to supply ships, run shipyards and provide maritime security for the country

JOHANNESBURG: Abu Dhabi-based shipbuilder Privinvest said on Monday it had begun arbitration proceedings to claim compensation against three Mozambican state-owned companies at the center of a $2 billion debt scandal.
Privinvest’s claim comes nearly two months after Mozambique named the company in a lawsuit against firms involved in arranging loans meant primarily to fund a fleet of fishing boats but which ended up tipping Mozambique into a debt crisis.
The US Justice Department alleges several people, including a former employee of Privinvest, facilitated $200 million in bribes and kickbacks to themselves and government officials from the $2 billion loans.
The loans were not disclosed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as required for those nations seeking financial assistance, and included an $850 million “tuna bond” to finance a fleet of fishing boats in 2013.
In a statement, Privinvest spokesman Jeffrey Birnbaum did not specify the amount of money being claimed for breaching contractual supply agreements. He declined to tell Reuters what arbitration mechanism was being used or where it was taking place.
The company had signed contracts with three Mozambican state-owned companies — Mozambique Asset Management, Ematum and ProIndicus — to supply ships, run shipyards and provide maritime security for the country.
Calls to the Mozambique Attorney General’s Office and companies involved went unanswered.
The southern African state admitted in 2016 to the undisclosed lending, prompting the IMF and foreign donors to cut off support. That triggered a currency collapse and a default on Mozambique’s sovereign debt.
It is still struggling with the economic impact.


Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

Updated 26 June 2019
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Urgency needed to boost Palestinian economy: IMF chief

  • The MF has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy
  • ‘If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained’

MANAMA: IMF chief Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that major economic growth was possible in the Palestinian territories if all sides showed urgency, as she took part in a US-led conference boycotted by the Palestinian leadership.
The International Monetary Fund has been warning of severe deterioration in the Palestinian economy, with tax revenue blocked in a dispute with Israel which has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip for more than a decade.
“If there is an economic plan, if there is urgency, it’s a question of making sure that the momentum is sustained,” said Lagarde.
The IMF chief is attending a conference in Bahrain to discuss the economic aspects of a United States plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, which has already been rejected by the Palestinians as it fails to address key political issues.
Lagarde said for the US plan to work “it will require all the goodwill in the world on the part of all parties — private sector, public sector, international organizations and the parties on the ground and their neighbors.”
Citing examples of post-conflict countries, Lagarde said that private investors needed progress in several sectors including strengthening the central bank, better managing public finance and mobilizing domestic revenue.
“If anti-corruption is really one of the imperatives of the authorities — as it was in Rwanda, for instance — then things can really take off,” she said.
The plan presented by White House adviser Jared Kushner calls for $50 billion of investment in the Palestinian territories and its neighbors within a decade.
The proposals for infrastructure, tourism, education and more aim to create one million Palestinian jobs.
Gross domestic product in the Gaza Strip declined by eight percent last year, while there was only minor growth in the West Bank.
Kushner, opening the conference on Tuesday, called the plan the “Opportunity of the Century” — and said the Palestinians needed to accept it before a deal can be reached on political solutions.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected the conference, saying that the US and Israel are trying to dangle money to impose their ideas on a political settlement.
Washington says it will unveil the political aspects of its peace deal at a later date, most likely after Israel’s September election.