Juba, March 23, 2019 (SSNA) — South Sudan’s oil is secretly being run, manages, and auctioned off by a small group hand-picked by President Salva Kiir, a confidential source with South Sudan’s National Security told the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) on Saturday.
The source discloses that President Kiir has picked three people in October 2018 and gave the individuals unlimited powers directing the entire sale of the oil. The source also explains that the Petroleum minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth simply follows what the 3-men group tells him. The source further asserts that the three men operate like a mafia entity.
“All these men come from Warrap State. They are the ones who conduct secret oil deals with foreign oil companies and governments. They tell the Ministry of petroleum what to do. These people operate like an oil mob,” the source explains.
The source accuses the men of taking money from oil corporations without the knowledge of the petroleum ministry.
“I can tell you here today that all foreign oil companies trust these three people more than they trust our oil ministry. What is disturbing is the fact they usually collect huge loans from oil companies in exchange for oil sale,” asserts the source.
The official further reveals to the SSNA that the President’s men always ask any oil company that buys South Sudan’s oil to pay them millions of dollars before the actual sale is completed and that the men run the oil ministry like their personal business.
“They always ask any oil company interested in buying oil to pay them millions of dollars in advance without consulting the oil ministry. One good example of their scheme is that they do not want the petroleum ministry to disclose money they take because the money they take always end up at the State House. These people are ripping off oil because the President gave them these illegal powers and the President is illegally benefiting from this act,” the official says.
This is not the first time the government is accused of misusing oil funds. President Kiir was accused in 2015 of having a secret group running the sale of oil. The President was also accused of directing foreign oil companies to pay millions of dollars to a group of people without consulting with petroleum ministry.
The source says Kiir only wants a partial amount of money generating from oil sale to be deposited in the bank.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently accused South Sudan of selling “nontransparent” oil advances and urges the young nation to spend more money on peacebuilding.
Documents obtained by the Associated Press shows that the committee tasked to oversee peace implementation has approved at least $185 million dollars and that the money was spent on cars, food, and home renovations.