New Investigative Report:
February 21, 2023 (Washington, DC) — A new investigative report by The Sentry—the result of a three-year investigation into a loan deal between a local company and a regional bank, with the backing of the South Sudan government—has uncovered red flags for illicit business practices, including bribery, tax evasion, and trade-based money laundering. The investigation exposes how laws were broken in South Sudan, sanctions may have been breached, and powerful individuals were enabled to benefit from the manipulation of business worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The report, “Crude Dealings: How Oil-Backed Loans Raise Red Flags for Illegal Activity in South Sudan” spotlights a 2018 deal in which South Sudan’s Trinity Energy Limited entered into a trade finance facility with Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for a series of $30 million loans to purchase diesel and gasoline to sell to the South Sudan market. As part of the deal, the government of South Sudan committed to award cargoes of crude oil to Trinity Energy. The deal skirted legislation on oversight, transparency, and competition and facilitated off-book government spending.
The loan deal also perpetuated a damaging reliance on future oil production to finance current spending, a pattern that has locked the country in a spiral of debt. Oil is South Sudan’s most valuable resource and the source of the vast majority of its national wealth. This deal contributed to mortgaging the future prosperity of the country and its citizens.
The Sentry’s report reveals that the arrangements between Trinity Energy, Afreximbank, and the government of South Sudan were contrary to South Sudanese law, and their implementation by Trinity Energy raises red flags for bribery, tax evasion, and trade-based money laundering.
The in-depth investigation by The Sentry included interviews with a former Trinity Energy employee and reviews of the trade finance facility, bank statements, emails, internal memos, and ministerial correspondence.
Selected highlights from the report:
Key recommendations from the report (complete list of recommendations included in the full report):
Read the full “Crude Dealings” report: https://thesentry.org/reports/crudedealings/
For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, [email protected]
About The Sentry
The Sentry is an investigative and policy organization that seeks to disable multinational predatory networks that benefit from violent conflict, repression, and kleptocracy. Pull back the curtain on wars, mass atrocities, and other human rights abuses, and you’ll find grand corruption and unchecked greed. These tragedies persist because the perpetrators rarely face meaningful consequences. The Sentry aims to alter the warped incentive structures that continually undermine peace and good governance. Our investigations follow the money as it is laundered from war zones to financial centers around the world. We provide evidence and strategies for governments, banks, and law enforcement to hold the perpetrators and enablers of violence and corruption to account. These efforts provide new leverage for human rights, peace, and anti-corruption efforts.