20 Sep 2019
A cabal of ruling elites and warlords in South Sudan have been propped up by a complex and global web of corruption that includes would-be American arms dealers, British business tycoons, and Chinese oil giants, according to a new report released on Thursday.
The report, released by the Sentry, an investigative arm of the nonprofit group Enough Project, pulls back the veil on how powerful elites and warlords in one of the world’s poorest nations have stayed in power and amassed vast personal wealth off the state’s public funds and resources while international banks, corporations, and foreign investors stood to profit.
“Nearly every instance of confirmed or alleged corruption or financial crime in South Sudan examined by The Sentry has involved links to an international corporation, a multinational bank, a foreign government or high-end real estate abroad,” the report says.
Drawing on a trove of documents and forensic financial analysis, the report sheds new light on the scale of corruption in South Sudan, an oil-rich country that has been in civil conflict for over five years. It also provides a detailed portrait of how China has expanded its political and financial footprint in Africa, operating with South Sudanese security services and militias widely accused of carrying out atrocities and war crimes against civilian populations.
Years of violence and instability have plunged South Sudan into what is considered one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
South Sudan first seceded from Sudan to become the world’s newest country in 2011, after decades of struggle and with strong U.S. support for independence. But it fell into a civil war in 2013 after South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and his deputy, Riek Machar, split into rival factions vying for power. All sides in the civil war, including government forces and militias that act as their proxies, have been accused of mass killings, rapes, and other war crimes. An estimated 383,000 people have died as a result of the war, and nearly 2.5 million refugees have fled to neighboring countries to escape the violence.
While it remains one of the world’s poorest countries, South Sudan’s ruling elite and rival warlords have managed to stockpile significant wealth inside and outside the country, with tens of millions of dollars changing hands through multiple banking jurisdictions in certain transactions, as the Sentry report details.
“If the country was hijacked by military officials and politicians, it’s these international companies and banks that are driving the getaway car,” said J.R. Mailey, the director of investigations at the Sentry, in an interview with Foreign Policy.
By Robbie Gramer, Foreign Policy, 19 September 2019
Read more at Foreign Policy
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