Maputo – Maputo. Sep 21 (AIM) – One of 19 defendants indicted in Mozambique’s “hidden debts” scandal admitted on Tuesday in Maputo municipal court that he had allowed his employers at a bureau de change to manipulate a account he had opened. from the country’s largest commercial bank, Millennium-BIM.
Khessaujee Pulchand had worked as a cashier at the Africaambios bureau de change in central Maputo, an institution which occupies an important place in the table of money laundering drawn up by the prosecution.
Last week, businessman Fabiao Mabunda told the court a complex story of multi-million dollar, euro and meticais transactions much of which his company, MMocambique Construcoes, had undertaken at the behest of Angela Leao, wife of Gregorio Leao, the former head of the Security and Intelligence Service (SISE).
The company, in 2013, received nearly nine million US dollars from the Abu Dhabi-based Privinvest group. Because Privinvest supposedly wanted the money back, Mabunda withdrew millions of meticais from his bank account and changed them into dollars. He changed some of this money at Africaambios.
The complex ploy Mabunda exposed in court was to turn the meticais received from Angela Leao into dollars, which he used to repay Privinvest. The funds from Privinvest in the MMocambique account were used to pay other businesses and various expenses stipulated by Leao.
On Tuesday, Pulchand admitted that he knew Mabunda as a client of Africaambios, but he strongly denied knowing or having any dealings with MMocambique Construcoes.
Judge Efigenio Baptista then showed him the statements from his Millennium-BIM account. These showed repeated payments into the account of MMocambique Construcoes. Some were in the form of checks, but two of the largest, for 4.92 million and 6.58 million meticais, were bank transfers.
Pulchand admitted that the checks and wire transfers were genuine, but continued to insist that he had no relationship with MMocambique Construcoes,
He said that in 2004 his employers, the Africambios owners, insisted that he and other Africambios workers open bank accounts.
Pulchand explained that his ID was used to open the account, which was in his name, but Africaambios management managed the account and controlled the checkbook.
“If you don’t know MMocambique Construcoes, how come you handle its checks,” Baptista asked.
“Because I was told to do it,” Pulchand replied.
âSo you didn’t know what was going on with your own account,â the judge mused, wondering how Pulchand could ever prove anything about the account.
“And you thought it was normal?” He asked.
âI don’t know how to answer,â Pulchand said – but added that opening the account was a condition for keeping his job at Africaambios.
Prosecutor Sheila Marrengula said that between January 2013 and June 2018, more than 359.43 million meticais (over $ 5.6 million at the current exchange rate) entered Pulchand’s BIM account.
He said he believed that figure was correct, and “I guess the money has to do with Africaambios”.
“I did not manage the account,” he insisted. “They told me when I should sign the checks.”
Pulchand admitted he had no idea where the funds came from – he just did as his employers ordered.
He accepted the prosecution’s argument that, in fact. Africaambios had operated with two sets of accounts – one official, shown to financial authorities, and the real one, based on Pulchand’s BIM account.
“We didn’t know anything,” he said. “We just obeyed the boss’s orders.”
âDid you think it was legal? Marrengula asked.
âAt the time, I was not aware of the practice,â he replied.