Gov. Admiral Validates Mozambique Marine Purchases – Casey Torres
A central issue in the trial of executive Jean Boustani in his conspiracy and fraud trial in Brooklyn, New York, is whether the contracts for the sale of boats and systems he sold to Mozambique several years ago were real and whether the acquisitions were appropriate for a developing nation.
On Monday, retired U.S. Admiral Stanley Bryant answered both questions in the emphatic affirmative. He even called the deliveries “fantastic” and declared them both cutting edge and what the Mozambicans needed.
The deliveries early in this decade were meant to create a fishing industry for Mozambique so it could exploit the robust tuna crop off its coast. They also were meant to watch and patrol the same region and protect it and the growing natural gas drilling effort that was about to get underway offshore.
Admiral Bryant, a defense witness, has an extensive background working on and commanding naval ships and operations, both when he was in the U.S. military and more recently as part of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. He explained that Mozambique’s maritime contracts were “turnkey.” That meant much more than the equipment was part of the sale. It also included training, maintenance and many other after-purchase services.
Notably, he mentioned his involvement in a different set of projects for a separate manufacturer that included fighter jets. The planes cost $85 million per plane, but the contract for 3,000 planes cost $1.3 trillion. That meant the turnkey aspect of that transaction added roughly 6 times to the price tag of the planes alone. The Mozambique multiple for the turnkey part of the contracts was far less than that, he noted.
Mozambique also had a lot to contend with. It had to address concerns of piracy, human trafficking, smuggling and poaching. The elaborate nature of the equipment and services was the result of that need, he said. Mozambique’s long coastline presented a problem he referred to as “tyranny of distance,” meaning the bigger the area one has to protect, the more difficult and dangerous it was to do so. The Mozambique purchases were extensive and sophisticated for those reasons.
The admiral also concluded that the plan behind the deliveries was a good one. And it was all delivered as promised, he said. Defense counsel showed Google Earth images from 2016, from which the Admiral identified Ocean Eagles, HSI-32s, and DB15s — along the coast and in the water — all part of the projects that Boustani and his employer, Privinvest, had contracted to deliver.
Also part of the transactions was intellectual property, including the design and construction of the vessels. These were handed over to allow Mozambique to build and maintain a lot of the assets, another added cost to the projects, Bryant said.
These conclusions mirror a report written over the summer by retired U.S. Navy Admiral Gary Roughead. He looked at the situation and concluded that the ships and programs not only had been delivered but also were a good idea for a nation that needed help securing its coastline and expanding its promising fishing industry. Roughead, a former chief of U.S. Naval Operations and former Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, concluded that “the vessels, systems, and equipment procured by Mozambique are appropriate to the tasks for which they were acquired, including commercial fishing and coastal security.”