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South Sudanese generals splash money in Uganda

Report implicates Kiir, Machar in dubious acquisitions

As thousands are killed, maimed and displaced by the war in South Sudan, the leaders at the centre of the conflict are reaping financially, reveals a new report released The Sentry, a corruption investigator in Africa.

The report written chronicles in great detail how South Sudanese leaders are profiteering from the ongoing civil war, which has killed thousands of civilians.

However, authorities in the world’s newest nation have reacted angrily. President Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny dismissed the report as ‘completely rubbish and politically-biased’, while Riek Machar’s SPLM- IO welcomed the report but denied that Machar owns a property abroad.

The Sentry report also claims that some South Sudanese generals are transferring millions of dollars of illicit wealth out of the country. Some of the leaders own mansions and real estates in neighboring Kenya, Uganda and as far as Australia.

Titled “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay: Stopping the looting and destruction in South Sudan September 2016,” the report was released on Monday. It follows a two- year-long investigation by Sentry, a watchdog group founded by Hollywood actor George Clooney and John Prendergast, a former official in the Clinton administration.

“The Sentry has found that the top officials responsible for mass atrocities in South Sudan have managed to accumulate fortunes while the rest of the country suffers the consequences, in some places experiencing near-famine conditions,” the report reads.

The Sentry report found that members of the families of both President Kiir and former vice president Machar reside in luxurious homes outside of South Sudan.

The Sentry’s investigation found that South Sudanese army chief Gen Paul Malong, who makes roughly $45,000 per year through his government salary, has at least two luxurious villas in Uganda in addition to a $2 million mansion in a gated community in Nairobi.

Reik Machar (L) and Salva Kiir

That investigation further indicates that one of Gen Malong’s houses in Kampalas located next door to a home maintained by Gen Gabriel Jok Riak, a South Sudanese general subject to a UN-mandated asset freeze and travel ban.

The report also notes that Gen Malek Reuben Riak has a house inside a walled compound just a few miles away. According to the report, these powerful political figures and their immediate relatives have large ownership interests in local oil, construction, security and gambling businesses—in violation of South Sudanese law barring officeholders from engaging in commercial activity. South Sudan leaders perpetuate the conflict, the report reveals.

“The leaders of South Sudan’s warring parties manipulate and exploit ethnic divisions in order to drum up support for a conflict that serves the interests only of the top leaders of these two kleptocratic networks and, ultimately, the international facilitators whose services the networks utilize and on which they rely,” it says.

For instance, the report notes, Kiir’s presidential salary is about $60,000 annually. Machar drew a government salary $54,000 annually until he was ousted in July after the collapse of a power-sharing agreement.

The conflict has cost thousands of lives since. About 1.6 million of South Sudan’s 12 million people have been forced to flee their homes, and some 5.2 million are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, including food, according to the United Nations.

The UN and the US have imposed financial sanctions against six South Sudanese senior military commanders from both regular government forces and fighters loyal to Machar. But the Sentry’s two-year investigation found that one of the six men under UN and US sanctions was still able to make financial transactions worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Sentrys also found that children of the South Sudanese leaders are living abroad, playing crucial roles in their families’ financial networks and documenting their lavish styles on social media, posting selfies with top-line luxury cars and photos of their homes’ swimming pools.

The report alleges that a 12-year-old son of Kiir holds a 25 per cent interest in a holding company. His identification documents list his occupation as “Son of President.”

The Sentry has reviewed documents indicating that at least seven of President Kiir’s children as well as his wife, Mary Ayen Mayardit, have held stakes in a wide range of business ventures. Additionally, those documents reveal that Kiir’s brother-in-law, Gen Gregory Vasili, has held stakes in numerous businesses operating in South Sudan.

Together, the Kiir and Vasili families have, according to these documents, held interests in almost two dozen companies operating in oil, mining, construction, gambling, banking, telecommunications, aviation, and government and military procurement. Other documents obtained by Sentry indicate that children of Gen Malong and Gen Reuben Riak, too, have held stakes in oil, mining, and telecommunications companies.

“They are stealing the money to fund their militias to attack and kill one another,” Clooney said. The report also notes that Gen Hoth Mai purchased a home in the Melbourne (Australia) suburb of Narre Warren in the name of his son at $1.5 million, despite the fact that he earned a salary of no higher than $60,000 per year.

KIIR DYNASTY

President Kiir owns a multi-million ranch at Luri Luri, a rural stretch of savannah and woodlands about 10 miles west of Juba in South Sudan. Kiir’s family also owns a gated house in Lavington, one of Nairobi’s most upscale neighborhoods.

Four of the president’s grandchildren attend a private school on the outskirts of Nairobi that costs roughly $10,000 per year. Kiir’s other children have attended high school and college in Australia, Malaysia, and Uganda.

Mayar Kiir, the president’s son, owns a 50 per cent stake in Specialist Services, a company involved in “oilfield services and petroleum supply.” The 29-year-old also owns half of Oil Line & Hydrocarbons Limited, with the remaining shares held by three Kenyan businessmen.

Salva Mayar, the president’s daughter, owns shares in Rocky Mining Industries. Thiik Kiir, the president’s 28-year-old son, owned 35 per cent of Nile Link petroleum. Thiik Kiir and Mayar Kiir, at one point in 2007, held shares in Buffalo Commercial bank alongside Benjamin Bol Mel.

Anok Kiir, President Kiir’s 29- year-old daughter, has held a 45 per cent stake in CPA Petroleum. Winnie Salva Kiir, the president’s 20-year-old daughter, held an 11 per cent stake in Fortune Minerals & Construction.

ENTER MACHAR

Meanwhile, Machar’s immediate family spends significant time living outside of South Sudan, especially in Addis Ababa and Nairobi. Machar owns an elegant villa in a gated community within a neighborhood called Runda on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Bading Machar, his nephew, reportedly owned one percent of KK Security’s subsidiary in South Sudan, beginning in 2006. The report recommends stern action against the profiteering political leaders and army generals.

ssekika@observer.ug

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