By Santo Deng Akol
OPINION | In every country all over the world, there are men and women who use their proximity and closeness to the center of power particularly the executive or Presidency to plunder, steal and loot resources of the country for their own selfish interests. They do that at the expenses of millions of their fellow countrymen who are left to wallow in abject poverty while these few individuals in collusion with senior government officials stash away billions of US dollars in offshore bank accounts in some tax havens out reach of the laws of their own countries.
They even go further and deploy well-known strategy called state capture. State capture describes a sophisticated form of corruption in which businessmen and politicians conspire to influence a country’s decision-making process to advance their own selfish interests to enrich themselves. As most democracies have laws to make sure this does not happen, state capture also involves weakening those laws as well as neutralizing any government agencies that enforce those laws. In some instances, these corrupt businessmen and officials make laws to suit their own selfish business interests. We have seen these cases in South Africa where Gupta brothers use their influence with the former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma to loot billions of US dollars from the state coffers. In the end the law caught up with Gupta brothers and they were forced to flee South Africa. Fortunately, they successfully ended the Presidency of Jacob Zuma who is now cooling his heels in prison in South Africa. We have also seen the same situation in Angola where the daughter of former of President of Angola, Isabel Dos Santos used her influence as first daughter to loot billions from oil revenues of Angola. When the new government came to power, she was not spared. Some of her assets running into billions of US dollars have either frozen or confiscated by the government. Our own first daughters Adut Salva Kiir Mayardit and Anok Salva Kiir Mayardit seems to have emulated her. They are on a brutal looting spree never seen anywhere before.
Closer home, South Sudan is not any different. We have men and women who think that South Sudan is their personal property and that they have all the right to loot it to death. These men and women are;
- Kur Ajing Ater and Paulino Diing Madol (Digitel Telecommunications Co. Ltd, AMOC General Trading LLC and Lou General Trading Co. Ltd).
- Tut Gatluak Manime (Presidential Advisor on Security).
- Akol Ayii (Trinity Energy, Rak Media and M-Gurush).
- Benjamin Bol Mel (ARC Engineering and Construction).
- Bol Bol Areech (Areech Petroleum).
- Gregory Vasili Dmitri (President Salva Kiir brother-in-law).
- Adut Salva Kiir Mayardit (Crawford Capital, NilePay, Securiport).
- Anok Salva Kiir Mayardit and her husband Deng Chagai (Triangle Rea Estate Co. Ltd).
Anok Salva Kiir Mayardit and her husband Deng Chagia brought on board another corrupt businessman called Chol Akoi and Turkish company Hatay Construction Limited to run the project. This was the company that was paid over USD 30 million for the construction of J-3 Compound for Presidential Guards. This contract was awarded to Anok Salva Kiir Mayardit and her husband Deng Chagai through the influence of the former Minister of Presidential Affairs and current Minister of Foreign Affairs Mayiik Ayii Deng and Presidential Advisor on Security, Tut Gatluak Manime. Mayiik Ayii is the same man who pocketed millions of US dollars in bribery and kickbacks from Shandong High-Speed Co. Limited for the shambolic construction of Juba-Bhar-El Ghazal highway which was washed away by heavy rain barely after the beginning of the construction. One wonders why President Salva Kiir would re-appointed the same individual who messed up his one of his key legacy infrastructural projects back to his government as a powerful minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation!
The above individuals have looted South Sudan to its deathbed and they are not giving up. It is time to expose them for people of South Sudan to know that these individuals have looted their country to its last cent. It is these individuals who are responsible for failure of the Ministry of Finance & Planning to pay salaries for civil servants and security forces. It is these individuals who are responsible for the current economic downturn in South Sudan. They have monopolized state resources for their own selfish interests. When the day of reckoning and uprising comes, South Sudanese should not look elsewhere for individuals to hang for lack of basic services such as food, health care, schools and infrastructure such as good road network and railways. They should know that these individuals have looted their resources and hid it in tax havens and neighboring countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and the United States Arab Emirates (UAE).
Our in-depth investigation into criminal enterprise looting resources will start with Kur Ajing Ater and his business partner Paulino Diing Madol.
Kur Ajing Ater and Paulino Diing Madol
Kur Ajing Ater and his business partner Paulino Diing Madol. Kur Ajing Ater owns Lou General Trading Co. Limited, Digitel Telecommunications Co. Ltd and Amuk General Trading Co. Limited. He has received billions of US dollars from the Ministry of Defense & Veterans and Office of the President. He has continued to receive billions of US dollars through fictitious and fraudulent contracts and business deals.
For example, on 22nd May 2021, a British-based online website published an article with screaming headline; “New $5 Billion Infrastructure Project Announced for South Sudan”. According to the article, this project is expected to be implemented through a partnership between Dubai-based Silwana Global Group and AMOC which is owned by South Sudanese wheeler-dealers and cartels Kur Ajing Ater and Paulino Diing Madol. The projects include, “provision of clean water, new road infrastructure, food, agricultural development and infrastructure upgrades”.
On the surface, this project sounds noble for South Sudan because if implemented, it would boost economic growth through infrastructure development, employment, food security, manufacturing and industrial production. If implemented, the project has potential to lift up millions of South Sudanese people out poverty.
However, as the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. An in-depth investigation by this author has revealed that this project is short of nothing but a premeditated high-level plan to defraud the people of South Sudan of their only source revenue; crude oil. A leaked SWIFT confirmation obtained by this author shows that Silwana Diamond General Trading LLC, a shell company owned by Kur Ajing through proxies has already received USD 650 Million (Six Hundred Fifty Million United States Dollars) on behalf of the Government of South Sudan. This loan is backed by an irreversible and irrevocable “sovereign guarantee expiring on 7th June 2031 backed by crude oil for a period of ten years”.
A further investigation revealed that Amuk (AMOC) General Trading LLC which is owned by Kur Ajing Ater, his wife Christina Achol and Paulino Diing Madol was the same company that was given 18 crude oil cargoes worth over USD 600 Million to supply food to South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF). This contract was awarded to Kur Ajing through the influence of the Presidential Advisor, Tut Gatluak. Many years down the line, soldiers in training centers are dying of hunger and diseases. The graduation of Unified Forces which is a key pillar of the Revitalized Peace Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCISS) has been delayed countless number of times because the money allocated for the graduation of Unifed Forces as directed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit has been pocketed by the Presidential Advisor, Tut Gatluak and Kur Ajing Ater.
Reliable sources have also revealed to this author that Silwana Global Group is shell company being used by Kur Ajing and Paulino Diing Madol with the backing of former National Congress Party member and Presidential Advisor on Security, Tut Gatluak to defraud the people of South Sudan billions of oil revenues for their own personal gains at the expense of millions of South Sudanese who are wallowing in abject poverty. Silwana Global Group has never implemented any project in any of the countries it claimed to have done business. Our investigations revealed that Silwana Global Group has never implemented any single project in Togo, United Arab Emirates or anywhere in the Middle East. Silwana Global Group has seventy (17) outstanding criminal cases in the international courts for “fraud, bribery and corruption”. How do you trust such a company with outstanding criminal cases to manage multi-billions projects? It is a joke!
In addition, the Government of South Sudan has already has already contracted ARC owned by Benjamin Bol Mel and Shandong Highspeed and which have already been paid billions of US dollars through crude oil allocation to build major superhighways. Why is the Government of South Sudan allocating these huge amount to road infrastructure when these projects are already being implemented by ARC and Shandong High-speed Company?
Kur Ajing and Paulino Diing Madol supported by Presidential Advisor Tut Gatluak together with well-known fraudsters from Silwana Global Group have been bragging openly that President Salva Kiir Mayardit through his daughter Adut Salva Kiir (now nicknamed Isabel Dos Santos of South Sudan) is part of the deal and they stand to receive mouth-watering sum of USD 250 Million from the money. It is worth noting that Adut Salva Kiir and her maternal uncle, the notorious Gregory Vasili Dmitri are currently in Dubai waiting to receive part of their loot. Our undercover operatives say that Kur Ajing Ater and Adut Salva Kiir are inseparable; they are always seen together even spending time in the same hotel room in Dubai. It is also reported that Abu Thalib who is the right hand man of Presidential Advisor on Security Advisor Tut Gatluak is also camping in Dubai on behalf of his boss to ensure that they get part of the loot. He has even moved his family to Dubai. Kur Ajing has reportedly rented about three 5-star hotels in Dubai where he is hosting his associates waiting for part of their loot.
With these revelations and given the current economic situation in South Sudan where medical workers, civil servants and soldiers and other security personnel have gone for months without being paid their meagre salaries, should the government of South Sudan under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit allow these two individuals to receive these huge sum of money on behalf of millions of poor South Sudanese people?
We have already seen how disgruntled South Sudanese within and outside South Sudan are with the current state of affairs in South Sudan are planning to demonstrate against the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit. Among the issues highlighted is grand corruption sanctioned at the highest level of the leadership of the Government of South Sudan. A group calling itself People’s Coalition for Civil Action (PCCA) in its declaration stated that grand corruption is directly link to lack of provision of basic services to the people of South Sudan. The groups have called for mass peaceful demonstration against the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
This group and others like the Red Card Movement would not have emerged if individuals like Kur Ajing Ater And Paulino Diing Madol had not been allowed to loot resources meant for millions of South Sudanese people.
Our intensive investigation has revealed that this transaction is nothing but a well-orchestrated plan to defraud the people of South Sudan through the use of international financial instruments such as sovereign guarantee. It is high time for President Salva Kiir Mayardit to step in and rescue people of South Sudan from this wanton theft and broad daylight robbery.
Impose Punitive Sanctions on Kur Ajing Ater and his business associate (Paulino Diing Madol)
The corrupt oligarch Kur Ajing Ater was sanctioned in October 2019 by the US government for his “involvement in bribery, kickbacks and procurement fraud with senior government officials”. Together with senior government officials, he was accused of draining state coffers and usurping the country’s resources with impunity. To date, Kur Ajing Ater together with his business partner Paulino Diing Madol have continued to loot resources for people of South Sudan in utter defiance of US sanctions which essentially amounts to slap in the face for US government. Since the government of South Sudan has failed to take measures against these fraudsters, we are calling on the United States Government under the administration of President Joe Biden to impose more punitive sanctions against these corrupt oligarchs who have resorted to state capture and rent seeking to bankrupt the people of South Sudan. We also called on the US government to impose sanctions on the so-called Silwana Global Group and AMOC General Trading LCC. LLC. We are also calling on the US Government to impose sanctions on Digitel Telecommunications Co. Ltd which is owned by Kur Ajing Ater and his wife Christina Achol. Digitel was set up using resources looted and stolen from the people of South Sudan.
Dismiss and Prosecute Senior Government Officials Colluding with Kur Ajing Ater and Paulino Diing Madol
Our investigation has also revealed that Kur Ajing Ater has promised huge sum of money to senior government officials for their roles in facilitating the award of the contract and necessary documentation leading to the allocation of crude oil and issuance of irrevocable letter of sovereign guarantee and the payment of USD 650 million. We can confidently expose these government officials and the amount of kickback they are receiving;
- Tut Gatluak (Presidential Advisor on Security) – USD 150 million.
- James Deng Wal and Ateny Wek Ateny (Executive Director, Office of the President) – USD 30 Million.
- Adut Salva Kiir Mayardit (President Kiir’s daughter) and Gregory Vasili (President Salva Kiir’s brother-in-law) – USD 250 Million.
- Bol Ring Muorwel (Managing Director of Nile Petroleum) – USD 30 Million.
- Awow Daniel Chuang (Undersecretary, Ministry of Petroleum) – USD 25 Million.
With this revelation, we are calling on President Salva Kiir Mayardit to dismiss senior government officials who are mentioned above for their role in facilitating and abetting looting of resources meant for the people of South Sudan.
The people of South Sudan are well aware of the individuals who have been looting their resources. They know them by names. They also know where these individuals are hiding their loot. It is not matter of if but when will South Sudanese go after these looters, conmen, criminals and oligarchs who have turned South Sudan into their little criminal enterprise at the expense of millions of South Sudanese who are wallowing in abject poverty within and outside South Sudanese.
We are calling President Salva Kiir Mayardit to immediately intervene and end this madness. Failure by President Salva Kiir to intervene will be assumed that he is part and parcel of this criminal enterprise. President Salva Kiir Mayardit is great liberator. He gave his life for the cause of the people of South Sudan. He should leave behind a clean legacy that will be emulated by generations to come. But for this to happen, he must make painful decision to rescue his already tainted legacy or else he will be disgraced and humiliated like former Presidents Omar Al-Bashir, Robert Mugabe, Jacob Zuma and Dos Santos just to name a few.
In the next articles, we shall focus on Akol Ayii who owns Trinity Energy, M-Gurush and Rak Media. This individual has used his position to steal millions of US dollars disguised as a loan from AFREXIM Bank. He received nearly USD 150 million from AFREXIM for bogus deals. For example, he was paid USD 57 million for facilitating the so-called of USD 250 million loan from AFREXIM Bank. Rak Media which is owned by Akol Ayii was paid USD 11 million for unknown reasons. He was also paid USD 30 million through an Egyptian company for rehabilitation of Juba – Nimule Highway. Akol Ayii continue to receive millions of US dollars in fictitious allocation of crude oil to sell subsidized fuel in the market. We shall expose more dirty deals involving Akol Ayii and his companies in the next article.
We will also focus on Benjamin Bol Mel and Adut Salva Kiir Mayardit. These two individuals have received millions of US dollars for fictitious and fraudulent deals. For example, Adut Salva Kiir was paid USD 16 million through AFREXIM Bank for COVID-19 intervention. Up to date, we have not seen how these money was used to mitigate effects of COVID-19 in South Sudan. Benjamin Bol Mel, through his company called African Resource Corporation (ARC) has received upto USD 1.5 Billion for the construction of Juba-Bor road which is less than 200 kilometres. This road was supposed to be completed in 3 years but two years down the line the road has not even reached half way yet he continues to receive billions of US Dollars through crude oil. Despite receiving billions of US dollars, ARC has not been paid contractors and staff working for the company.
Santo Deng Akol is an Investigative Journalist and Commentator on Current Social, Economic and Political issues in South Sudan. He is the interim Executive Director of Patriotic Whistleblowers Coalition (PWC) in South Sudan. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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