Mozambican nabbed with R18m is jailed
Told Swazi cops he was off to Dubai
MAPUTO and Johannesburg: A Mozambican businessman arrested in Swaziland in possession of R18 million is now back in Maputo – but in jail.
Momed Khalid Ayoob was detained at Matsapa airport in Swaziland on December 1. When Swazi police opened his bags, they found the money and charged him under Swazi customs and exchange legislation.
At a court hearing, Ayoob told the judge the money consisted of payments from clients of his various businesses in Maputo. He said he was taking the money to Dubai to buy goods and vehicles.
However, purchases in Mozambique are nor mally made in the Mozambican currency, the metical, and not in rands. No Mozambican bank would have agreed to sell Ayoob R18m in hard cash.
Ayoob made no attempt to explain why he preferred to carry large sums of money for thousands of kilometres rather than make a legitimate bank transfer.
After a week in detention, a Swazi court released Ayoob on bail of R400 000. He tried to return to Mozambique overland on Monday – but customs officials and members of the Criminal Investigation Police (PIC) were waiting for him at the Goba frontier post, and he was taken to a Maputo prison, while investigations continue.
Even if Ayoob can prove the money came from a legitimate source, he should still face criminal proceedings for smuggling it out of the country. Under Mozambican exchange regulation, a maximum of $5 000 (R34 270) or the equivalent in other currencies) may be taken out of the country without being declared.
Ayoob once owned a foreign exchange bureau in Maputo, Real Cambios – but the Bank of Mozambique closed it down for irregularities in 2007.
The Bank of Mozambique is hoping that the Swazi authorities will now return the R1m to Mozambique where, unless Ayoob can prove that he obtained it legitimately, it will revert to the Mozambican state.
According to the National Director of the Mozambican Criminal Investigation Police, Carlos Come, Ayoob has no criminal record in Mozambique. However, PIC is requesting information about any past offences from countries he has known to have visited, such as South Africa, Swaziland and Portugal.
The Mozambican press has previously reported that Ayoob was arrested in Portugal on drugs charges in 1987, but escaped to Mozambique.
In 2002, his brother, Macsud Ayoob, was caught in Maputo International Airport, carrying over a $1 million in banknotes. Again the destination was Dubai.
The Ayoobs are mentioned in one of a controversial series of confidential documents sent from the US embassy in Maputo to Washington in January this year which also quoted an anonymous Maputo businessman as telling the embassy that Mozambican President Armando Guebuza was deeply involved in corruption and that drug-trafficking and money-laundering were rife in the country.
In one of the documents, published by WikiLeaks, the embassy says that “Mozambique has been called the second most active narcotics transit point in Africa after Guinea Bissau.
The ruling Frelimo party has not shown much serious political will to combat narcotrafficking.