The Sentry Urges Action From US, Kenya to Tackle Illicit Financial Connections to Regional Conflicts
April 27, 2021 (Nairobi) – Today, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will commence his first “virtual visit” to Africa, starting in Kenya. He will be meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo and is expected to “discuss future cooperation to promote democracy and expand trade, and explore avenues to address global challenges, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Sentry welcomes this engagement by Secretary Blinken and urges the two sides to discuss ways to disrupt illicit financial flows connected to conflict and corruption emanating from Kenya’s neighbor, South Sudan. Since 2016, The Sentry has identified real estate, corporate holdings, and bank accounts in Kenya associated with South Sudanese officials, including UN sanctioned individuals. South Sudanese leaders who are fueling corruption and violence continue to use Kenya to hide their ill-gotten wealth.
John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: “Secretary Blinken’s early focus on key countries in Africa is an encouraging sign. Kenya’s engagement in resolving regional conflicts is essential. Given how much some Kenyan networks have profited from the wars in South Sudan and Somalia, it will be important to press Kenya to act on illicit financial connections to these conflicts. Secretary Blinken has the opportunity to demonstrate the seriousness of the Biden administration’s emphasis on anti-corruption efforts globally by providing tangible support to Kenya for anti-money laundering and sanctions enforcement efforts.”
Kenya, as a regional economic hub, is extensively connected to the global financial system. Proliferation of illicit activity in Kenya is a threat to the US and the broader financial system. It is vital that Kenyan authorities, regulators, and banks lead the way in implementing strict standards for anti-money laundering, anti-corruption, and sanctions enforcement to protect the country’s financial system from abuse by the violent kleptocrats and corrupt elite in South Sudan. If left unchecked, this exploitation will increasingly imperil Kenya’s economic growth and access to the international financial system. As Kenya is set to undergo a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) mutual evaluation of its anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime, taking steps to tackle these illicit flows is especially urgent. Crucially, investigating and disrupting these money flows would provide tremendous leverage for peace efforts in South Sudan.
The US should urge Kenya to investigate and sound the alarm on South Sudanese leaders, including UN sanctioned individuals, exploiting Kenya’s real estate, corporate, and banking sectors. The US should also prioritize support to anti-money laundering efforts in Kenya, including technical assistance to regulators and support to law enforcement authorities.
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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, 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.