March 17, 2012 (JUBA) – The eight month old independent state of South Sudan has criminalised money laundering as part of an ongoing effort to arrest the rampant corruption in the country.
- Government of South Sudan cabinet meeting (ST)
Over one billion US dollars of public money disappeared between 2005 - 2006 alone, the first years of the interim period after formation of the semi-autonomous government by the current ruling former rebels, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), according to the recent official report by the Auditor General.
Many more billions of dollars are also feared missing or unaccounted for between 2007 - 2011, as this period also witnessed the infamous “grain saga” worth of billions of dollars.
Millions of dollars were also reportedly smuggled in bags across the international borders from South Sudan and vice versa.
On Friday the cabinet introduced the anti-money laundering bill requiring financial and non-financial institutions to identify and report transactions of suspicious nature.
In the meeting chaired by the country’s vice president, Riek Machar, the minister of justice, John Luk Jok, presented the bill, which was approved following deliberations by the cabinet. The bill calls for the establishment of a financial intelligence unit in the country to help the banks verify a customer’s identity and monitor transactions for suspicious activity.
Bank employees such as tellers and customer account representatives will be trained in anti-money laundering and will have instructions to report activities that they deem suspicious including the activity of financing terrorism. Such anomalies would include any sudden and substantial increase in funds, a large withdrawal, or moving money to a bank secrecy jurisdiction.
South Sudan’s Anti Corruption Commission’s (SSACC) chairperson, Justice John Gatwech Lul, last week said his institution was also working out mechanisms with international banking institutions around the world to use the latest techniques of detecting and recovering “stolen” money.
Senior government officials have begun to declare their income and assets including the organised forces as the 31st March deadline nears. The latest to declare their income and assets this week to the SSACC were the top generals of the police force headed by the Inspector General of Police, General Acuil Tito.
Gatwech warned that there will be sanctions against those who may present false information on income and assets, including automatic confiscation of their undeclared income and assets when found out.
The SSACC keeps the declared income and assets confidential until they carry out investigations into the sources of such incomes and assets of the individuals.