02.01.2017

SEC probes Mozambique debt sold by Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas

400The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the sale of $850 million in bonds issued by Mozambique by Credit Suisse, Russia's VTB Group and BNP Paribas, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The southern African nation in October said its debt was unsustainable and the International Monetary Fund suspended assistance to Mozambique when evidence of $2 billion in secret loans emerged.

The bonds were sold in 2013 to finance a Mozambican state-owned firm's plans to develop tuna fishing in the impoverished nation, but the government later said it had also bought military equipment with the funds.
The probe opens a new chapter in a scandal of hidden debts which has rocked Mozambique, one of the world's poorest countries, for months.

The SEC in November asked bondholders for documents provided by Credit Suisse, VTB and BNP Paribas during the sale of the bonds, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a letter sent to bondholders. The letter also asked investors to share with the SEC all communications with the banks related to the bonds.


Representatives of the SEC and BNP declined to comment, while Credit Suisse did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Financial watchdogs from Switzerland and Britain are also looking into Credit Suisse's and VTB's involvement.
The Fitch ratings agency in November said Mozambique had officially defaulted on its debts, and was $175 million in arrears.

The country's debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to reach 130% in 2016, from 86% in 2015, according to the finance ministry of the african state.


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