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South Sudan denies connection to U.S. sanctioned businessman

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December 22, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan denied on Friday any connection to Benjamin Bol Mel, a businessman and close advisor to the President Salva Kiir, sanctioned by the U.S. administration Thursday for alleged corruption in the war-torn country.

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Benjamin Bol Mel (Gurtong photo)

Benjamin Bol Mel (Bol Mel) is the President of ABMC Thai-South Sudan Construction Company Limited (ABMC) and has served as the Chairman of the South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture. Mel has also served as South Sudanese President Salva Kiir’s principal financial advisor and is perceived within the government as being close to Kiir and the local business community.

Several officials are reportedly linked to ABMC in spite of a constitutional prohibition on top government officials transacting commercial business or earning income from outside the government.

Mel oversees ABMC, which has been awarded contracts worth tens of millions of dollars by the Government of South Sudan. ABMC allegedly received preferential treatment from high-level officials, and the Government of South Sudan did not hold a competitive process for selecting ABMC to do roadwork on several roads in Juba and throughout South Sudan. Although this roadwork had been completed only a few years before, the government budgeted tens of millions of dollars more for maintenance of the same roads.

He is the first business official to be sanctioned by the U.S. after several serving or former South Sudanese officials have already been placed under U.S. sanctions for alleged roles in the conflict, including Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, the army’s deputy chief of the defence staff for logistics; former army chief Paul Malong; and Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth.

Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said Friday most of the information the United States used to blacklist South Sudan officials was “misleading”. He denied Mel was close to President Salva Kiir and several members of the government through whom he conducts his businesses.

But The U.S. Embassy in South Sudan on Friday issued a statement saying the action necessitated by the “role his business network, in facilitating corruption”.

Mel, according to the statement was exploiting his connections with Kiir “to regularly engage in large-scale government contracts worth millions of dollars for construction work that was not completed.

The statement warned that the US “stands ready to take additional actions against those who profit from this catastrophe, including those who facilitate the actions of corrupt officials”.

It underscored that acts of corruption undermine the values that form the essential foundation of stable, secure and functioning societies, have devastating impacts on individuals, weaken democratic institutions, degrading the rule of law, perpetuate violent conflict, facilitate the activities of other dangerous persons and undermine economic markets.

(ST)

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  • 23 December 2017 09:30, by jubaone

    How could such a "nobody" jienge from rags make it to riches within such a short time? We still are waiting for Junubin millionaires who from humble beginnings to great riches have made it. But our millionaires are nothing but petty peanut traders, like those from Konyokonyo who ybed fellows with benydits/bandits/misfits from govt

    repondre message

  • 23 December 2017 09:31, by Sunday Junup

    American are now talking, how come ABMC made Adventist round about for $2.5 Million Also the road from Seven day Adventist to Lure has not been completed while they collected million Dollars

    repondre message

  • 23 December 2017 23:10, by lino

    Corruption is visible from top to bottom in this country!!! I wish a technocrats government will come and confiscate all houses, buildings, and belongings in and out of the country and return all to the Treasury of the people ASAP!!!

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    • 24 December 2017 08:05, by Nyesi Ta

      I hope it is not the technocrat gov’t called for by the other layer of thugs of those of Pagan Amum, Ahmed Alor just to mention a few, who had been a parcel and part of the destructive corrupt force since 2005. We still have fresh memories of the $60 million that disappeared in the hands of Arthur Akuen/Pagan Amum. The SPLM mapias, whether in IG or IO shouldn’t be allowed to govern anymore. A luta

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