Trial starts over $2 bln Mozambique debt scandal

A criminal trial began in Mozambique this week over a $2 billion debt scandal that crashed the country's economy.

Proceedings got underway in Maputo, the capital, on Monday (August 23).

And it looks like one of the chief suspects could be appearing.

South Africa says it will extradite former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang back to his home country.

Chang and 19 others face charges including blackmail and embezzlement.

A total of $2 billion dollars was raised in state-backed loans to pay for a project involving tuna fishing, shipyard development and maritime security.

But authorities say vast sums were paid out in kickbacks, and much of the project's promised benefits never materialized.

Security officials and a former president's son are among others charged.

Chang, who denies all wrongdoing, has been held in South Africa since being arrested at the request of U.S. investigators.

It's not clear whether he will be tried separately, or as part of the wider case.

When the full extent of the scandal was revealed in 2016 donors cut off support for the country, triggering a currency collapse.

Mozambique remains on the hook for the missing money.

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