April 2, 2020 (Washington, DC) – At a time when South Sudan’s government most needs to generate resources for urgent public health-related challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, one of its promising revenue streams is beset by mismanagement and corruption. The Sentry’s latest investigative report reveals how South Sudan’s promising gold-dominated minerals sector is riddled with corruption involving President Salva Kiir’s relatives and inner circle, military leaders, and other high-level officials. Published today, the report further exposes illegal mining now underway in Eastern Equatoria state, where the governor has ties to numerous mining businesses, as well as the Ministry of Defense’s involvement in problematic mining licensing deals.
“Untapped and Unprepared: Dirty Deals Threaten South Sudan’s Mining Sector” warns that, without strong reforms, abuse in the minerals sector could spur the same kind of resource-driven violence that plagued the petroleum industry throughout civil wars fought on South Sudanese soil dating back to the 1980s.
John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: ”Through close relatives and allied government officials, President Salva Kiir is linked to dozens of mining companies in South Sudan. The president’s core network has used its control of the minerals sector to consolidate its grip on South Sudan’s state revenues and natural resources. If South Sudan’s people are to benefit from the country’s mineral wealth, including lifesaving healthcare urgently needed in the face of a global pandemic, financial institutions should take immediate steps to identify and monitor the bank accounts of those in power, their business networks, families, and inner circles.”
The Sentry further established that Kiir’s close associates and lower-level ministers have held shares in no fewer than 32 South Sudanese companies established to extract minerals. The government has yet to disclose crucial information about their ownership structures, activities, or open applications for licenses, undermining public scrutiny of a sector already at heightened risk for corruption and raising questions about who benefits from South Sudan’s mineral wealth.
Sophie Lombardo, Investigator for The Sentry, said: “Without swift action, South Sudan’s mining sector may fall into the same traps as the oil sector, which has helped drive war in South Sudan for decades. Military interests abound, either through joint ventures with private investors or companies controlled by the Ministry of Defense. The Sentry’s investigative findings reveal opaque and questionable deals that raise significant concerns about secret off-budget revenues within an institution marred by a history of abuse.”
J.R. Mailey, Investigations Director at The Sentry, said: “Today, widespread corruption, mismanagement, and poor oversight in the mining sector are intertwined in a vicious cycle. Individuals linked to criminal activities have received numerous mining licenses, as have companies with little technical or financial capacity, raising serious questions about how licenses are granted. The mineral sector in South Sudan is still in its early development stage, however, so the implementation of critical reforms can deliver enormous benefits for the future of the country. Policy action is needed now, such as the creation of a regularly updated public online register disclosing the beneficial ownership of mining sector businesses.”
Key recommendations from the report:
South Sudan government:
United States government:
United Kingdom and European governments:
Read the full report: https://thesentry.org/reports/
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ABOUT THE SENTRY
The Sentry is an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system. By disrupting the cost-benefit calculations of those who hijack governments for self-enrichment in East and Central Africa, the deadliest war zone globally since World War II, we seek to counter the main drivers of conflict and create new leverage for peace, human rights, and good governance. The Sentry is composed of financial investigators, international human rights lawyers, and regional experts, as well as former law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, policymakers, investigative journalists, and banking professionals. Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is a flagship initiative and strategic partner of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.
Learn more at www.TheSentry.org.