By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
September 4, 2012 (BENTIU) - Authorities in Unity State have confirmed that in July this year they arrested a South Sudanese man for selling counterfeit foreign currency. The police say they are also looking to arrest a Liberian national in relation to the allegations.
- A picture shows notes of the new South Sudan pound, which pictures the late South Sudanese independence leader John Garang, in Juba on July 18, 2011. (Getty)
Authorities in Unity State told Sudan Tribune, that this is first time they have seen such a case in Bentiu. Last year the South Sudan government arrested four foreigners from Uganda, Kenya, Congo and Belgium who were involved in the dealing in counterfeit dollars in the capital Juba.
The Unity State police department of crimes and investigation told Sudan Tribune that the South Sudanese man was responsible for selling counterfeit of US dollars as they found 13 counted bundles of counterfeit dollars in the man’s house.
However, the authorities say the alleged dealer claims that the Liberian national, who was staying with him and his family, was the one the owner of the fake notes, not himself.
The police have refused to name the man who is 35 years old and is from Unity State.
Unity State’s director for Crimes and investigation Lt. Col Hussein Girish Yambio said that the arrested man would only face trial once all investigations had been complete. However, if the police are unable to find the Liberian the case will be split and referred to Bentiu high court for persecution separately, he said.
- Hussein Girish Yambio, Unity State Director of Crimes and Investigation in Unity State police talks with Sudan Tribune in Bentiu, South Sudan, 4 September 2012 (ST)
Lt. Col Girish says through his investigation has found that 19,000 South Sudanese Pound (SSP) was spent by people buying fake dollars.
Since South Sudan stopped oil production in January over a transit fees dispute with Sudan, the young nation has suffered from rampant inflation and lack of hard currency. This has made importing the goods the young nation depends on such as food from Kenya and Uganda even more difficult.
National staff at the United Nations and other agencies went on strike last month demanding to be paid in dollars due to the devaluation of the South Sudanese Pound and the rising cost of living.
Oil production is due to begin within four to six months according to officials but the closure has severely stunted the development of the world’s youngest nation as it struggles to overcome the consequences of decades of war and underinvestment.
Unity State authorities warned foreigners not to spoil the image of new nation committing such crimes, adding that they would be judged, according to the South Sudan Transitional Constitutions.
“For foreigners what I want to tell them, they have to respect themselves because we don’t want to involve them to the court or involve them for something bad that would be shameful for their staying in South Sudan”, added Girish.
The directorate of crimes and investigation says it will work tirelessly to make sure such crimes are not repeated against the people of the state.