Washington, DC/Juba, April 3, 2020 (SSNA) — A well-coordinated corruption scheme in South Sudan’s mining sector involves President Salva Kiir’s relatives and inner circle, military leaders, and other high-level officials, a new report released by the Washington, DC-based investigative and policy institute, The Sentry, shows.
The report entitled, “Untapped and Unprepared: Dirty Deals Threaten South Sudan’s Mining Sector,” obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA) reveals that at least 32 mining companies are run by people related to Kiir, close friends, political allies, military officers, and politicians both at national and state levels. The report states that “ineffective accountability mechanisms” have exposed the mining sector to abuse by bad actors within the South Sudanese ruling elite.
“Memoranda and articles of incorporation reviewed by The Sentry reveal that politically exposed persons—both Kiir’s close associates and lower-level ministers—have held shares in no fewer than 32 South Sudanese companies established to extract minerals. Similarly, a number of companies that received provisional gold dealing licenses in 2016 were controlled by politically exposed persons, including Lawrence Lual Malong Yor Jr. and current Deputy Defense Minister Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, who was placed under sanctions by the United States and the United Nations (UN). Lual has claimed family ties to former army chief of staff Paul Malong Awan, though the exact nature of their relationship is unclear,” the report reads in part.
“Although South Sudan took welcome steps to reform the mining sector in 2012, some government officials, their relatives, and their close associates have fostered a weak regulatory environment susceptible to exploitation. In one example of how the privileged few have apparently exploited kleptocratic arrangements, President Salva Kiir’s daughter partly owns a company with three active licenses, while another company with three licenses lists former Vice President James Wani Igga’s son as a shareholder,” the report finds.
The 33-page finding describes how those in power use their relatives as major shareholders in the mining companies. The document says a son of Vice President James Wani Igga is a shareholder in a mining company runs by a businessman named Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali also known as Al-Cardinal.
The report also accuses corrupt officials of listing children as shareholders of the companies they run. In the report, The Sentry asserts that “veil of secrecy” has facilitated significant acts of corruption in the country and urges for a public registry to disclose the names of those who own the companies. The Sentry calls on the United States, the United Kingdom, and other European countries to implement rules, targeting illicit financial and mining dealings.
In February 2020, a document was leaked to the South Sudan News Agency. In the text, the official who leaked the document claimed that President Kiir owns secret mining business dealings in Pibor.