4 Min Read
* Audit followed scandal over $2 bln in secret loans
* Findings shows gaps on how money was spent
* IMF says to visit Mozambique in July (Adds more details, comments)
By Manuel Mucari
MAPUTO, June 24 (Reuters) - Mozambique's government has not done enough to explain how $2 billion in loans was spent and roughly a quarter of the money remains unaccounted for, an independent audit of the debt showed on Saturday.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanded an external forensic audit of the debt last year following revelations about the previously hidden loans granted to three state-owned companies in 2013 and 2014.
Discovery of the unapproved credits to tuna fishing company EMATUM, security firm Proindicus and Mozambique Asset Management (MAM) led the IMF and Western donors to halt budget support to Mozambique, triggering the collapse of the local currency and debt defaults as well as hitting economic growth.
In a 57-page summary of the audit, risk management firm Kroll Inc said officials in the southern African country had given inconsistent answers about how $500 million earmarked for the tuna fishing company had been spent.
"Gaps remain in understanding how exactly the USD 2 billion was spent, despite considerable efforts to close this gap," the audit summary said.
"Until the inconsistencies are resolved, and satisfactory documentation is provided, at least USD 500 million of expenditure of a potentially sensitive nature remains unaudited and unexplained."
Explanations on how the $500 million was spent included that the money was integrated into the national budget and that it was used to purchase military equipment, Kroll said.
The Mozambique attorney general's office acknowledged the findings of the audit and said it would work with the international community to resolve the issues raised.
The audit showed Credit Suisse and Russia's VTB Capital -- lead arrangers for the loans -- were paid a total of $199.7 million in fees.
Kroll also found there was no evidence provided that any assessment took place before the signing of three government guarantees with a combined value of $1 billion and potential conflict of interest issues were identified.
The state-owned companies also lack some basic infrastructure necessary for their operations, the audit showed.
"Proindicus does not have an operational satellite package, EMATUM does not currently have permits for the fishing vessels, and MAM has only recently obtained access to a shipyard in Maputo that is undergoing an upgrade to enable the maintenance of vessels," the audit said.
The IMF said it would visit Mozambique from July 10-19 to discuss concerns raised by the debt audit.
"The publication of these documents constitutes an important step towards greater transparency regarding the loans," the Fund said in a statement.
"However, information gaps remain, in particular on the use of the loan proceeds. An IMF staff mission will visit Mozambique ... to discuss the results of the audit with the authorities and possible follow-up actions." (Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Ros Russell and Helen Popper)