New Report by The Sentry, “State of Prey”:
Facing a Corruption-Riven Election, Foreign Election Interference, Political Exploitation of COVID-19, and an Onslaught of Foreign and Domestic Profiteers, CAR Becomes a Hotbed for Organized Crime, Trafficking, and Terror Financing
October 19, 2020 (Washington, D.C. / Paris) – Transnational organized crime and terror financing is on the rise and thriving in the Central African Republic (CAR), fueled by high-level corruption, political exploitation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a violent proxy war between pro-French and pro-Russian actors seeking to loot the country’s lucrative natural resources, according to a new report released today by The Sentry.
The Sentry’s report, “State of Prey: Proxies, Predators, and Profiteers in the Central African Republic,” details the proliferation of money laundering and trafficking in gold, diamonds, weapons, diplomatic passports, and drugs and warns of regional and international security concerns as the country hurtles toward an uncertain presidential election.
Nathalia Dukhan, Senior Investigator at The Sentry, said: “The Central African Republic is more divided than ever. The greatest threat to peace and security now is not the religious or ethnic division on the surface, but the silent, devastating proxy war driven by pro-French and pro-Russian actors. With elections just two months away, foreign powers are interfering in domestic politics and sowing conflict in a competition to strip the country of its treasure and gain geostrategic advantage in this part of the continent. Amid the chaos and corruption unleashed by this power struggle, the country has turned into a breeding ground for crime networks and mafia-like armed militias.”
John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: “The international community has for too long tried to cajole the warring parties into doing less harm, while turning a blind eye to the violent looting of a nation by predatory domestic and foreign actors. Relying on the false hope of a corrupt electoral process and the deeply flawed Khartoum agreement will guarantee a deadly status quo, as criminals will continue to rip CAR to pieces and profit from its dismemberment. However, financial tools of pressure and hard-hitting actions by governments and the global banking sector can create leverage for peace, and that’s where the international community needs to focus its urgent attention.”
The report spotlights the role of predatory foreign forces, notably an alliance between the regime of CAR’s President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and the Wagner Group, a Russian state-linked security enterprise. Exposed for supporting armed groups accused of abuses against civilians in CAR, the Wagner Group is led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Saint Petersburg oligarch known as “Putin’s Chef” due to his close links with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Hilary Mossberg, Director of Illicit Finance Policy at The Sentry, said: “The activity of organized criminal groups, drug traffickers, entities under international sanctions, and destabilizers of peace, including illicit transactions and pay-offs in US dollars, means that international financial institutions with ties to the region must apply extra scrutiny to transactions and customer due diligence. It’s imperative that banks and businesses with ties to CAR’s natural resource sectors remain vigilant for corrupt actors and illicit financial transactions and do their part to prevent further conflict in the country.”
Key report findings:
Key report recommendations:
For the UN Security Council, European Union, and their member states
For banks and financial institutions
Read the full report: https://thesentry.org/
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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 strategic partner of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.
Learn more at www.TheSentry.org.