UK court finds Mozambique president cannot be sued in UK over bribery allegations News, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
UK court finds Mozambique president cannot be sued in UK over bribery allegations

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi cannot be sued in English courts over allegations that he accepted unlawful bribery payments as part of Mozambique’s “tuna bond” scandal, according to a Thursday decision from the English Court of Appeal. The money laundering scheme nearly crashed Mozambique’s economy and embezzled individuals worldwide. The Court of Appeal ruled that Nyusi “has immunity” within the English legal system whilst he remains head of state in Mozambique.

The “tuna bonds” scandal is a complex, decade-long affair involving a failed debt arrangement. The state of Mozambique alleges that the private company Privinvest, alongside the investment banks such as Credit Suisse, paid over $100 million in bribes to gain official government loans.

The allegations are that, because of the issuance of such bribes, three government-owned Mozambican companies made deals in 2013 and 2014 with Privinvest and Credit Suisse for loans of around $2 billion. The loans were secured with undisclosed and illegal state guarantees and pitched as being for projects for the development of the Mozambique tuna fishing and maritime security industries. However, in 2016, it emerged that a large part of the money was embezzled due to deep-rooted corruption,

Privinvest alleges that Nyusi received bribes of around $11 million. Therefore, if Privinvest are found to have acted unlawfully in the main proceedings with the state of Mozambique, then Nysui ought to indemnify the company and contribute to any damages which it is ordered to pay. However, the English Court of Appeal rejected these claims, finding that not only was Nyusi ineffectively served with the proceedings originally, but that as president of Mozambique, he is entitled to immunity under section 20 of the State Immunity Act 1978.

Nyusi is not the only Mozambique government official to have been taken to court over the scandal. In July 2023, Mozambique’s former Finance Minister Manuel Chang was extradited to the US to face criminal corruption charges. He is currently held in detention ahead of trial. Credit Suisse have also admitted fault on the part of its bankers, paying $185 million fine to the UK Financial Conduct Authority and waiving $200 million more owed by the state of Mozambique.