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UK Judge Retains Mozambique 'Tuna Bond' Suit

FILE: Partial view of blurred judge in robe holding gavel in court. Taken Jan. 29, 2023

LONDON — A British judge on Monday declined to throw out a blockbuster lawsuit by Mozambique against Credit Suisse and others, who had argued that the African country had failed to fully disclose documents in the $2 billion "tuna bonds" case.

The case dates back to 2013, and three deals between state-owned Mozambican companies and shipbuilder Privinvest - funded in part by loans and bonds from Credit Suisse, and backed by undisclosed Mozambican government guarantees - ostensibly to develop the fishing industry and for maritime security.

But hundreds of millions of dollars went missing and, when the state loan guarantees became public in 2016, donors such as the International Monetary Fund halted support and triggered a currency collapse and debt crisis.

In a judgment published on Monday, High Court Judge Robin Knowles said it was not just, proportionate or necessary to strike the case out three months before a London trial.

But he added: "The disclosure duties of all parties are continuing."

Credit Suisse, UAE-Lebanese Privinvest, and others had called for the complex case to be thrown out if Mozambique failed to provide "adequate" disclosure.

The judge first raised the prospect of a dismissal in March, when he ordered Mozambique to ensure access to relevant documents held in key state offices such as the Office of President and the State Information and Security Service (SISE).

Under English litigation rules, each party has to disclose documents on which they rely for their case, those that might damage their own case and those that support the case of others.