February 25, 2017 (JUBA)- EcoBank, a Kenyan-owned commercial financial institution has denied involvement in the $ 10 million allegedly transferred to it by a former South Sudan general who resigned from the military last week.
- Lt. Gen. Thomas Cirillo (R) with commander of presidential guards Maj. Gen. Marial Chanuong at Juba airport on November 5, 2014 (ST).
The South Sudanese government said it is tracing its missing money to accounts at three Kenya-owned banks.
The three accounts are linked to Lt. Gen Thomas Cirillo, the ex-deputy chief of staff for logistics and his kin, Fueni Cirillo.
But Ecobank, in a statement, said documents, including a bank statement, which bears its letterhead were falsified.
“We wish to confirm we neither hold the account number published in The Star newspaper nor have any accounts that bear names similar to what was mentioned in The Star report. Furthermore, the bank statements published in the newspaper are falsified,” the bank said in a statement.
Eco bank said there are glaring inconsistencies in the story and documentation relied on to publish the report, including a non-existent account number, non-existent account names and a wrong branch address.
“The story indicated that $10 million had been stolen from the South Sudan government and stashed in three Kenyan banks, among them Ecobank Kenya. We wish to emphatically state that we adhere to strong anti-money laundering policies, as well as Know Your Customer procedures in line with best practice and regulatory requirements,” the Kenyan-owned bank further stated.
“We conduct our business professionally, ethically, with integrity and in accordance with Kenyan laws and regulations, as well as international best practice and have put in place a robust vetting process aimed at ensuring Ecobank Group and all its affiliates are not used as conduits of money laundering,” it stressed.
Meanwhile, Ecobank said it has not yet received any official request from South Sudan authorities on the money issue.
The South Sudanese army chief of staff, in a letter dated 9 February, said the cash went missing after Cirillo resigned his job and defected from South Sudan army (SPLA).
In the letter Gen. Paul Awan requested Renish Omullo, South Sudan’s special envoy to Germany on international and regional affairs, to trace and return the money, allegedly transacted in US dollars. On 10 February, Omullo wrote to Kenya’s foreign affairs cabinet secretary. Amina Mohamed requesting that bank accounts held by the Cirillos be frozen.
Cirillo was described in the letter as a former SPLA officer and “fugitive” in Kenya who stole over $10 million. In his resignation, Cirillo accused President Salva Kiir and army’s top leaders of "abuses" and "pushing a tribal agenda" in the country.