Web of deceit keeping South Sudan war alive

Monday September 23 2019

Newly released child soldiers in Yambio, South Sudan, last year under a programme to help reintegrate them into society. PHOTO | AFP

Newly released child soldiers in Yambio, South Sudan, in February last year, under a programme to help reintegrate them into society. PHOTO | AFP 

JOHN ADUKATA
By JOHN ADUKATA
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FRED OLUOCH
By FRED OLUOCH
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An array of international profiteers from the US, the UK, Asia, and Africa have been taking advantage of the war in South Sudan to amass wealth at the expense of the suffering masses.

These profiteers are not only cutting multimillion-dollar deals with top South Sudan government officials and their families, but have engineered massacres and displacement to enable them explore for oil.

In The Taking of South Sudan, a new report by The Sentry, a US-based anti-money laundering organisation, international businessmen and corrupt leaders within the country are alleged to be extracting billions in private profits, as the people of South Sudan starve, get killed, and are driven from their homes.

The Sentry is an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system.

LOOTING ALLEGATIONS

The findings of the report presented by the co-founders of The Sentry, George Clooney and John Prendergast, put President Salva Kiir’s 20-year-old daughter and China National Petroleum Company on the spot over the looting of state resources and funding pro-government deadly militias in the war-torn state.

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The report details the looting of state assets, exposes links to the family of the South Sudan president, and reveals that the fourth largest company in the world, the China National Petroleum Corporation, provided direct support to deadly militias.

Examples of militias supported by Dar Petroleum is the Padang Dinka militia who have committed atrocities in Upper Nile state during the ongoing conflict.

An unpublished study commissioned by Dar Petroleum had revealed that elevated levels of heavy metals and several dangerous chemical compounds were found in sites around Dar Petroleum’s production facilities.

According to The Sentry report, other environmental researchers claim that Dar’s contamination has caused a public health challenge that is currently putting 600,000 people at risk from contaminated drinking water.

“Dar Petroleum — a multinational oil consortium led by the China National Petroleum Corporation — is not just a passive beneficiary of the horrific status quo. The company has actively participated in the destruction of South Sudan.

Dar Petroleum has supported deadly militias, polluted communities endangering hundreds of thousands of people, and paid off government officials along the way,” said Mr Clooney.

He said that The Sentry provided evidence to governments and banks around the world, in the hope that it will help to interrupt the cycle of corruption and violence.

PROFITEERS

The Sentry also shows that Dar Petroleum agreed to pay a $686,000 hotel bill for South Sudan’s then oil minister, Ezekiel Gatkuoth Lol, a dual US-South Sudanese citizen.

“Profiteers from around the world have been willing to go into business with top politicians and military officials in South Sudan who are responsible for human rights abuses, and, in some cases have directly contributed to violence. Governments around the world have the tools to make sure that those who are complicit in these abuses face consequences,” JR Mailey, director of investigations at The Sentry also said.

The report also details how in March 2016, three Chinese citizens — He Yuheng, Chen Huiping and Chen Yongqiang — partnered with Winnie Salva Kiir Mayardit — the daughter of South Sudan’s president — to launch Fortune Minerals and Construction Ltd.

Six weeks after Fortune Minerals received its licence in the Amadi state city of Mundri, government troops in the area, reportedly destroyed healthcare centres, committed mass rapes and forcibly displaced tens of thousands of people.

“President’s Kiir’s 20-year-old daughter and her foreign business partners obtained a mining licence for territory where the government’s military, under her father’s control, later drove thousands of people from the land — people subjected to some of the worst atrocities committed during the war. The conflict of interest is shocking,” a senior investigator at The Sentry, Debra LaPrevotte said.

The report says that during South Sudan’s devastating civil war, international investors have formed commercial partnerships with top politicians and their families.

Many of these companies operate in sectors subject to significant government discretion or which have substantial links to the networks.

THE NETWORKS

Brian Adeba, deputy director of policy at The Sentry hinted that the UK nationals were involved in sponsoring corruption, embezzlement of South Sudanese state assets, and the beneficiaries of corruption buying homes here in London.

“The people responsible for violence and corruption in South Sudan often have strong links to the UK,” he said.

For instance, two British citizens formed an oil company with a warlord Lieutenant Gen. David Yau Yau accused of forcibly recruiting thousands of child soldiers in 2013.

In the same year, the report says, Yau Yau’s troops ‘killed and raped civilians, looted property and slaughtered the livestock of those who would not support him.

It also lists the filings by US federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of California, which stated that Ara Dolarian, an American arms dealer based in Fresno, California, attempted to sell $43 million worth of weapons in early 2018 to General Paul Malong, a South Sudanese warlord ousted from the government who was forming an armed opposition movement.

A Sudanese business tycoon, Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, was also implicated in aiding corrupt networks.

Despite his reported involvement in multiple corruption scandals, Mr Ali, also known as Al-Cardinal, who is tied to politicians and senior military officials in South Sudan, continues to receive millions of dollars in contracts.

It says in 2014, South Africa-based Vukani Aviation, owned by South African Nhlanhla Dube, formed a joint venture with the National Security Services, a secretive police force within the president’s office reportedly responsible for abductions, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, violence against civilians and intimidation of international aid workers and foreign government delegations in South Sudan to monitor the peace.

Mr Prendergast urged the US and UK governments to specifically blacklist all networks co-ordinating corruption in South Sudan.

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WHO IS NAMED?

Chinese citizens — He Yuheng, Chen Huiping and Chen Yongqiang — who partnered with Winnie Salva Kiir Mayardit — the daughter of South Sudan’s president — to launch Fortune Minerals and Construction Ltd;

Padang Dinka militia supported by Dar Petroleum and who have committed atrocities in Upper Nile state;

Fourth largest company in the world, the China National Petroleum Corporation, provided direct support to deadly militias;

Profiteers from around the world have been willing to go into business with top politicians and military officials who are responsible for human rights abuses;

Government troops who reportedly destroy healthcare centres, commit mass rapes and forcibly displace tens of thousands of people;

UK nationals involved in sponsoring corruption involved in embezzling South Sudanese state assets, and the beneficiaries of corruption buying homes here in London;

Sudanese business tycoons such as Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali who is implicated in aiding President Kiir’s corrupt networks.

Businesses colluding with the National Security Services, a secretive police force within the president’s office reportedly responsible for abductions, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention of civilians and intimidating human-rights defenders.

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