Press Release / / 12.14.18

U.S. Treasury Sanctions Entities for Their Role in South Sudan’s Devastating Conflict

Washington, DC –  The Sentry welcomes the announcement today by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that it has sanctioned three individuals, Gregory Vasili, Israel Ziv, and Obac William Olawo, for their roles in South Sudan’s conflict.  Six entities owned or controlled by two of the aforementioned individuals were also designated pursuant to Executive Order 13664.

The Sentry reported on Gregory Vasili’s involvement in procurement and embezzlement scandals in “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay: Stopping the Looting and Destruction in South Sudan”. Obac William Olawo’s role in the conflict is described in “Fueling Atrocities: Oil and War in South Sudan”.

John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry and Founding Director of the Enough Project, said: “This is exactly the way leverage should be built to support peace and fight corruption in Africa. Individual sanctions alone are inadequate. Network sanctions, like the ones imposed by the U.S. government today, begin to get at the system of grand corruption that fuels extreme violence in South Sudan, and actually makes war profitable. And because so much of the profit from grand corruption is realized by non-South Sudanese, it was important to see that Israel Ziv was one of those sanctioned today. These measures and other financial pressures are the steps that have long been needed to begin to reorient the incentives away from conflict and toward peace, away from kleptocracy and toward the rule of law.”

Joshua White, Director of Policy and Analysis at The Sentry, said: “This action shows a clear understanding of how targeting the financial facilitators and commercial enablers who sustain the looting machine in South Sudan can directly bring meaningful consequences not only to the sanctioned individuals but their businesses as well. This strategy of network sanctions must be the model moving forward. Today’s sanctions clearly show the intersection between corruption and armed conflict in South Sudan. We need more of these designations to chip away at the violent kleptocracy in South Sudan.”

Brian Adeba, Deputy Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “The impunity with which egregious corruption and human rights abuses have unfolded in South Sudan calls for stringent measures by the international community to hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Targeting the network of individuals who fuel this war is a first step to addressing its root causes.”

J.R. Mailey, Director of Investigations at The Sentry, said: “Gregory Vasili has stoked violence and embezzled money meant to feed starving South Sudanese. Obac William Olawo profited from a horrific war. This action means they won’t get away with it.”

Read The Sentry’s reports on the role of corruption and conflict in South Sudan:

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, +1 310-717-0606, gh@enoughproject.org.

About THE SENTRY

The Sentry is composed of financial forensic investigators, policy analysts, and regional experts who follow the dirty money and build investigative cases focusing on the corrupt transnational networks most responsible for Africa’s deadliest conflicts. By creating a significant financial cost to these kleptocrats through network sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, prosecutions, and other tools, The Sentry aims to disrupt the profit incentives for mass atrocities and oppression, and creates new leverage in support of peace efforts and African frontline human rights defenders. The Sentry’s partner, the Enough Project, undertakes high-level advocacy with policy-makers around the world as well as wide-reaching education campaigns by mobilizing students, faith-based groups, celebrities, and others. Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is an initiative of Not On Our Watch (NOOW) and the Enough Project. The Sentry currently focuses its work in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, and the Central African Republic.

In less than two years, The Sentry has created hard-hitting reports and converted extensive research into a large volume of dossiers on individuals and entities connected to grand corruption, violence, or serious human rights abuses. The investigative team has turned those dossiers over to government regulatory and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and around the world, as well as to compliance officers at the world’s largest banks.

Learn more at www.TheSentry.org.

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT

The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.