(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Iskandar Safa and his shipbuilding firm will be left to face what his lawyer called the “burden of trial” after UBS Group AG’s last-minute settlement with Mozambique’s government in the $1.5 billion tuna bonds scandal.
Judge Robin Knowles said the opening arguments in the trial, which was slated to start on Monday, can tentatively be scheduled to begin October 16. The court’s order came after the lawyer for Safa and his firm Privinvest Shipbuilding Holding said they will have to take over the lead in defending against Mozambique’s case from the lawyers for Credit Suisse, which was bought by UBS in June.
The settlement means Safa and Privinvest are left to pick up the “mess created by settling parties at their chosen time,” Duncan Matthews said in court on Monday. Matthews said he needs more time to consider both the settlement’s impact on the trial’s time line and the remaining amounts of the claim, as he opposed Mozambique’s suggestion to start the trial from Wednesday.
Sunday’s settlement means UBS won’t have to face Mozambique’s allegation in a public court that Credit Suisse ignored red flags pointing to the corruption of its own bankers in deals struck a decade ago.
The scandal, which sprang from a project to fund a new coastal patrol force and tuna fishing fleet, saw hundreds of millions dollars looted from Mozambique and tipped the southern African nation into economic crisis. The country’s bonds rallied after the settlement announced on Sunday.
The case triggered criminal investigations across the world with Credit Suisse agreeing in 2021 to pay almost $475 million to authorities. The settlement announced on Sunday did not disclose any financial details.
Lawyers for Mozambique, Privinvest and Safa didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comments. Lawyers for Privinvest have previously denied the allegations of wrongdoings and said the alleged bribes were in fact genuine investments and commercial transactions.
A spokesperson for Credit Suisse declined to comment.
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