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"Master of kickbacks" who left a legacy of debt

Iskander Safa oversaw a scheme which, regardless of the blame, left Mozambique impoverished

Safa pictured in 2013, centre left (Credit: Stephane Lemouton/ABACAPRESS.COM/Alarmy)

Good afternoon. Iskandar Safa, the billionaire head of Privinvest, the shipbuilding group that sold Mozambique boats and other equipment for $2bn in the notorious ‘hidden debts’ deals, died yesterday, according to a French magazine that he also owned.

From the Zitamar Live Blog:

Zitamar Mozambique Live Blog
Insurgents beheaded at least one civilian in the village of Nicavaco in the Metuge district of Cabo Delgado province on Sunday, less than 30km from the provincial capital Pemba. Islamic State claimed responsibility for killing one person but local sources told Zitamar News that two may have been decapitated and at least three men were also kidnapped.

Safa played a key role in getting those ultimately disastrous deals done. He is known to have communicated directly with the then Mozambican president, Armando Guebuza, to commend the deals to him. Guebuza’s son, Ndambi, and other associates received payments from Privinvest — $33m for Ndambi alone — which Mozambique has described, in courts in London and Maputo, as bribes. Privinvest disputes that interpretation — though it emerged in court proceedings in the US that Safa was described in a Credit Suisse document as a “master of kickbacks”. Three former Credit Suisse bankers testified that they were bribed by Privinvest.

Safa has loomed over the deals which created ProIndicus, Ematum, and MAM, in a similar way to Guebuza: as the ultimate mover and shaker, but who kept his hands clean. While his subordinates have faced legal proceedings, in New York and elsewhere, Safa has not — until last year’s trial in London, to which he was a party. A judgement in that trial is still pending, but will presumably not now rule on Safa’s guilt or innocence.

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