South Sudan NEWS PORTAL
May 28, 2020 (JUBA) – U.S. watchdog group, The Sentry, has alerted against major corruption and money laundering by high ranking military leaders in South Sudan.
In a report released on Wednesday “Making a Killing: South Sudanese Military Leaders’ Wealth, Explained,” the sentry said that the fact the engagement in business activities of the last four army chiefs of staff and three opposition militia leaders in South Sudan is “demonstrating red flags for money laundering and corruption”.
The report examines the commercial and financial activities of former Army Chiefs of Staff Gabriel Jok Riak, James Hoth Mai, Paul Malong Awan, and Oyay Deng Ajak, along with top-ranking military chiefs Salva Mathok Gengdit, Bol Akot Bol, Garang Mabil, and Marial Chanuong.
Militia leaders linked to major instances of violence both before and during the civil war — Gathoth Gatkuoth Hothnyang, Johnson Olony, and David Yau Yau — are also profiled in the report.
One of the Sentry investigators Shannon Mizzi said the lack of transparency and anti-corruption measures in the country allow its military leaders to easily divert funds and conclude corrupt arms deals.
“Many of South Sudan’s senior military leaders have amassed enormous wealth. Their posts provided easy access to government funds that appear to have financed luxurious lifestyles for relatives overseas in some instances,” Mizzi said.
The report comes out weeks after the announcement by the World Bank last April of a $7.6 grant in support of South Sudan efforts to fight COVID-19 pandemic.
South Sudan medical infrastructure and response capacities have been already stressed by civil war and weakened by the corruption that has benefitted military officials and top political leaders, says the report.
“With three times as many generals as physicians, South Sudan’s medical system is completely unprepared for COVID-19,” said John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry.
For his part, J.R. Mailey suggested to take a proactive response to ensure that the international support in response for COVID-19 pandemic would not be diverted by the country military officials to their private accounts.
“To help protect funds and resources meant for the pandemic response, we have all the tools at the ready including network sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, asset seizure and recovery, and domestic and international investigations,” he said.
On Friday 29 May, the UN Security Council will vote a resolution to renew South Sudan sanctions regime—including targeted sanctions and an arms embargo—which expires on May 31st.
The Sentry, in a separate statement, strongly urged the renewal of both the arms embargo and targeted sanctions.
In the past recent years, the group produced a series of investigative reports exposing the high level of corruption and profiteering linked to mass atrocities and human rights abuses in South Sudan.
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