Moçambique on-line

English version of an article published in
metical nº 1073 - September 17, 2001, slightly amended

Mozambique's banking crisis

This is the English version of a series of 12 articles which appeared over three weeks in September 2001 in metical. Several of the articles have been expanded slightly from their Portuguese originals. A list of abbreviations is at the end. The articles were all written by Joseph Hanlon, who can be contacted on
[Click here to read the Portuguese version]

Killing the goose that laid the golden eggs

More than $400 million went missing from the banking system in the 1990s. Carlos Cardoso and António Siba-Siba Macuácua were assassinated to stop us from knowing how much was stolen, who took it, and how the theft was done.

All countries use banks politically. In Mozambique, the banks were used to build socialism, to keep the country running during the war, and then in the new capitalist era to promote local entrepreneurs and keep the economy out of foreign hands.

And a lot of money was simply stolen by foreign and domestic businessmen and bankers. Many hands were in the honey pot.

There may be a difference between stealing money and promoting a new elite, but the people who killed Cardoso and Siba-Siba were clearly convinced that they would be unable to publicly justify taking money - and that enough money had been taken to justify at least two deaths.

They will probably succeed in ensuring we never know the details. But that makes it even more important to review what we do know, and put it into context. This study is based on interviews with bankers and others who know the Mozambican banking scene. They did not want to be identified, and they are not now involved with either BCM or Banco Austral. Banco de Moçambique refused to talk to us.

In a series of 12 articles, I will try to show:

  • how the creation of the banking system left it open to fraud and corruption,
  • how a new elite was able to loot the banking system before privatisation,
  • how the World Bank and IMF actually forced the government to accept corruption,
  • how the bank privatisations were political and involved important families linked to high party and state officials, and
  • how both bank privatisations were dubious and were used by Mozambicans and foreign partners for further theft.

The 11 parts will cover the following:

1.  Socialist banking
2.  The post-Samora era
3.  Forced privatisation of the state banks
4.  Privatisation of BCM
5.  Privatisation of BPD
6.  Collapse of both banks
7.  Who would take Banco Austral?
8a.  Using accounting to steal
8b.  The Mt 144 bn fraud
9.  Money laundering
10.  Stealing from foreign accounts
11.  Concluding thoughts

There will be no revelations and little that is new. But by bringing together what we already know, I hope to show that growing greed eventually killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. In the end, the political elite lost control of the banks. Far from Mozambican empowerment, the result has been foreign control of the banking system.
(Joseph Hanlon)

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metical - archives 2001

Moçambique on-line - 2001

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