June 5, 2017 / 2:38 PM / in 3 years

Russia's VTB says ready for "dialogue" over Mozambique debt restructuring

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - VTB, Russia’s second-biggest lender, is ready to talk about restructuring Mozambique’s debt and has provided all the information required for a forensic audit into hidden loans to three state-owned firm to authorities, a bank’s executive said.

The logo of VTB Bank is displayed on the top of a building in Moscow August 1, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The audit of the loans to EMATUM, Proindicus and Mozambique Asset Management (MAM), is a condition for the International Monetary Fund to resume aid talks with one of the world’s poorest countries.

The discovery of the unapproved loans had prompted the IMF to halt a loan in April 2016, prompting a collapse of Mozambique’s currency and defaults on its debt.

The Mozambican Attorney General’s office said last month it had received the audit carried out by U.S. firm Kroll and would release the results, delayed many times already, as soon as possible.

Yuri Soloviev, VTB’s first deputy chief executive, told Reuters the bank was not familiar with its result.

“All the information which was required we have given. We did not hear back yet. As we know, information was passed to the Attorney General of Mozambique and the Swedish Embassy in Mozambique,” Soloviev said. “We are ready for dialogue on restructuring.”

VTB said last year that it had shared the bulk of its $535 million loan to MAM, a state firm, with investors active in that region. It did not disclose which investors.

VTB, along with Credit Suisse, also helped to arrange a $622 million loan for maritime security projects for Proindicus, a company owned by the defence and interior ministries and state security service.

Debt-ridden Mozambique is struggling to repay the loans, which were not approved by parliament, and has defaulted on a number, including on VTB’s $535 million facility. “We did everything right, we had guarantees that all parties which needed to be informed about our loan, were informed,”Soloviev said.

“We can’t speculate whether the Mozambique government fulfilled its promises and don’t know to the full extend what they have done - (we) will wait for the audit results.”

Reporting by Katya Golubkova; additional reporting by Alexander Winning in Moscow and Karin Strohecker in London

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