September 14, 2016 (JUBA) – The United States government said it welcomes The Sentry’s report tracking the “extensive” corruption in South Sudan, including abuse of preferential access to foreign currency as well as theft of public assets.
- Riek Machar, left, first vice president of the Republic of South Sudan, and Salva Kiir, the president, at the first meeting of the new transitional coalition government in Juba, South Sudan, in April, 2016 (Jason Patinkin/AP)
South Sudanese leaders, the report said, have transferred millions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth outside the country while a civil war that has left nearly half the country’s people homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian aid.
The 66-page report specifically mentioned President Salva Kiir and some his top associates, along with Riek Machar, the country’s ex-vice president, as having invested millions of dollars in real estate in Kenya, Uganda and Australia.
“While corruption is harmful in any part of the world, it is especially appalling in a country on the verge of famine and struggling to build a government after only five years of independence,” said Mark Toner, the deputy US department spokesperson.
Washington, in the statement, stressed the need for reforms to fight corruption and increase the transparency of public finances, as part of implementing the peace agreement signed in August last year.
According to the report, these powerful political figures and their immediate relatives have large ownership interests in local oil, construction, security and gambling businesses, in violation of South Sudanese law barring officeholders from engaging in commercial activity.
“The leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties manipulate and exploit ethnic divisions in order to drum up support for a conflict that serves the interests only of the top leaders of these two kleptocratic networks and, ultimately, the international facilitators whose services the networks utilize and on which they rely,” it says.
Details of grand corruption involving the top leadership of South Sudan and close military leaders were released for the first time following a two-year investigation on corrupt activities and deals implicating senior officials of President Kiir’s government.
The report published on Monday has revealed for the first time the networks fuelling one of the world’s deadliest conflict zones implicating president, deposed vice president, political and military leaders, international banks, arms dealers, multinational oil and mining companies.
The document entitled, ‘War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay’ reveals that President Kiir, and Machar, their families and inner circles have “stashed fortunes that include overseas mansions, luxury cars, and stakes in an array of businesses – major multinational oil and mining companies, banks, casinos, and an airline — and have left a trail of murky transactions, insider deals, and outright fraud.”
The report has heavily implicated President Kiir, his family members and other relatives and in-laws as having involved in corruption, running various companies and holding major shares.
“While leaders have been pillaging government coffers, international donors including the United States have remained steady supporters of the South Sudanese people, providing basic services including health and education that are essential for the population’s future, as well as massive lifesaving assistance that has helped avert famine over the last two years,” further said Toner.
The US government, the official said, was working closely with The Sentry to ensure the information it has collected is used to that end.
Since December 2013, the US has reportedly donated more than $1.6 billion in humanitarian aid to the world’s youngest nation.