February 10, 2012 (BOR) – Arthur Akuein Chol, South Sudan’s former minister of finance has challenged the Secretary General of the new country’s ruling party, Pagan Amum, to account for USD $30 million he claimed were transferred to him while he was in office.
- Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) Secretary General Pagan Amum (Reuters)
Addressing a press conference on Thursday in South Sudan’s capital of Juba, the ex-minister said he could not account for how the money was spent, adding that he was following instructions from "above".
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 from Sudan following a referendum that took place the same year and showed an almost unanimous majority in favor of independence.
Corruption has blighted South Sudan since it achieved self-rule in 2005 following the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). In one incident, $2 billion has gone missing from a project to store grain and build stores to keep the food reserves used for emergencies.
At a press briefing in Juba, Arthur said that needed to come right and say how the $30 million was spent.
Akuein added that he has documentary evidence showing that South Sudan’s ministry of finance transferred the amount directly to Amum’s account.
“Once again, I had been instructed from above to transfer amount and Pagan [Amum] should account for this,” he added.
Sudan Tribune was unable to reach Amum for comment on the issue on Friday and Saturday.
The former minister of finance also requested the national assembly speaker make public a list, supposedly handed to President Salva Kiir on a visit to the US, allegedly detailing the “most corrupt” officials in the Juba government.
- Arthur Akuein Chol, South Sudan former Finance minister addressing the media in Juba, February 09, 2012 (ST)
Arthur Akuein Chol told journalists in Juba, the South Sudan capital, that the onus is now on the speaker, James Wani Igga, to disclose the names of the 13 senior officials allegedly holding large sums of money in foreign bank accounts.
The speaker, according to Chol, reportedly told lawmakers that the officials named are alleged to have stolen millions of dollars and hidden it in banks outside the country - one of the poorest in world.
“Go and ask the speaker who told MPs of the 13 most corrupt officials. He has the list and it’s high time he made them known to the public,” he said.
“Those implicated should tell the public how they obtained all that money.”
Chol, who served as finance minister from 2005-2007, also lauded last year’s auditor general’s report, which was presented in the national assembly. The document revealed how billions of dollars, mainly from oil revenues, went unaccounted for during the first two years of the interim period.
During the 2005-2006 financial years, for instance, over $1 billion is unaccounted for in transfers of oil revenues from the Government of National Unity - the power and wealth sharing partnership in Khartoum created by 2005 peace deal - to the autonomous Government of South Sudan (GoSS) in Juba.
In addition, the auditor general’s report further indicated that for two consecutive years, there was no financial reporting of what happened to non-oil revenues that were collected in taxes by the national government or South Sudan’s 10 states.
He remarked, “I am of the opinion that the auditor general should instruct his auditors to do a full audit and discovery on the national bank, and I am sure if they do this in a diligent and transparent manner, they will find the missing links [which] are there, but not yet discovered.”
Chol said that in 2006 some individuals from within South Sudan’s ruling party accused him of stealing public funds. An investigation by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) caucus found him to be innocent, he said.
According to the former minister, he was only involved in making approvals after instructions were issued from “above” concerning government spending.