Mozambique is suing Lebanese-French billionaire Iskandar Safa for fraud, targeting the chief executive officer and founder of the shipbuilding company at the center of the southeast African nation’s $2 billion debt scandal.
The government, represented by Peters & Peters Solicitors LLP, filed the case on Wednesday in the High Court of Justice’s commercial court in London, according to a filing, which didn’t provide further details. A spokesman for Safa said the entrepreneur denies any wrongdoing and that the English courts have no jurisdiction over him.
The legal action is the latest in a saga that has seen arrests including the son of Mozambique’s ex-president, former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, and three ex-bankers at Credit Suisse Group AG. The U.S. has accused Mozambique government officials, the bankers and Safa’s company Privinvest of setting up the $2 billion project as a front to pay themselves more than $200 million in bribes and kickbacks.
Two of the former Credit Suisse employees have pleaded guilty in the U.S., while Privinvest has denied any wrongdoing.
Mozambique in February started legal action in London against Privinvest and some of its units, which were the sole suppliers to the $2 billion project that included a tuna fishing operation, shipyards, and a coastal security system. The deals were signed in 2013 and 2014. Safa isn’t a defendant in that case.
One of the ex-Credit Suisse employees, Andrew Pearse, last month said in a New York court that Safa was among Privinvest representatives that wired him millions of dollars in kickbacks for arranging financing for the project.
Privinvest “rejects any claim that it acted improperly with respect to the supply agreements,” it said last month.
Safa is a co-conspirator in the U.S. Justice Department’s case, according to court filings in which the prosecutors describe him as a billionaire. He has not been indicted by the U.S. Born in Beruit in 1955, Safa is a civil engineering graduate and former discus champion, according to his website.