War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay.
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.
Within East and Central Africa, which loses billions of dollars a year in illicit financial outflows, mainly from its extraordinary natural resource wealth, The Sentry focuses primarily on the conflict zone spanning Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. We aim to create significant financial consequences for kleptocrats, war criminals, and their international financial facilitators through network sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, prosecutions, compliance actions by banks and other private companies, asset recovery, and other tools of economic and legal pressure. The Sentry engages intensively with policymakers, law enforcement officials, global banks, tech and mining companies, and other private sector entities around the world. We also support activist campaigns involving students, faith-based groups, celebrities, human rights organizations, and other concerned constituencies.
Since our launch in 2016, The Sentry has converted extensive investigative research into evidence-rich reports and dozens of dossiers on individuals and entities connected to grand corruption, violence, or serious human rights abuses. As a result, assets have been frozen, travel has been banned, money-laundering routes have been exposed and shut down, and individuals have been cut off from the international financial system. Much more needs to be done to alter the incentive structure from war to peace, but we are finally seeing consequences imposed on those orchestrating and benefiting from genocide, mass rape, ethnic cleansing, child soldier recruitment, and other crimes against humanity.
Following the money that funds atrocities and crimes against humanity
In order to track and analyze how armed conflict and atrocities are financed, sustained, and monetized, The Sentry uses open source data collection, field research, and state-of-the-art network data analysis technology, and works in partnership with local and international civil society organizations, journalists, and governments.
The Sentry’s investigations produce analytical reporting that engages civil society and media, supports regulatory action and prosecutions, and provides policymakers with the information they require to take effective action.
The Sentry examines the techniques used to benefit financially from armed conflict and atrocities, including:
- Convergence of licit and illicit systems—illicit actors conceal their operations and launder their profits through globalized systems of finance, trade, and transportation.
- Regulatory and sanctions evasion—illicit actors find ways to adapt to and avoid international laws, sanctions, and regulations.
- Disguised beneficial ownership—illicit actors employ increasingly sophisticated methods to disguise their true identities to avoid detection and exposure.
- Money and commodities laundering – illicit actors launder money and commodities such as gold to disguise their criminal origins and move it through legitimate financial systems undetected.
- Extractive industries and natural resource trafficking—illicit actors extract, tax, and sell natural resources to fund and sustain their operations.
- Corruption and illicit financial flows—illicit actors compete violently to capture state resources and divert funds for their own personal enrichment and to finance their armed campaigns.
- Security sector fraud and abuse—illicit actors manage state and military expenditures to fund off-budget activities with little-to-no transparency or accountability.
- Elite financing and offshored assets—illicit actors abuse their power and position to accumulate significant wealth that is then laundered through offshore jurisdictions to evade detection.
- War crimes and crimes against humanity – illicit actors orchestrate crimes against civilian populations in natural resource-rich territories — including enslavement, forced labor, and arbitrary arrests — as a key strategy for taking control over wealth and silencing dissent.
The Sentry’s ultimate objective is to alter the incentive structure of those benefiting financially and politically from conflict and mass atrocities. This will lend greater support to broader accountability measures as well as provide leverage to peace and human rights initiatives aimed at ending Africa’s deadliest conflicts.