By Deng Phillip
OPINION | South Sudan`s blessing as a basket of bounteous resources has often come across as a curse because of a small group of people that have by their actions over many years conspired to let loose on South Sudan a pack of plunderers and predators. Surprisingly, the President His Excellency Salva Kiir has failed to act on the corrupt politicians and business menlike Bibi Ali Aker.
The way this man has amassed fortunate, assets and staggering millions of dollars in short time is questionable and does not need a rocket science for one to guess that he is a beneficiary of patronage and massive corruption.
His associates like Tut Gatluak Manime (Presidential Advisor on Security), Kur Ajiing are among a clique of people looting the country dry.
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. The Presidency including the five vice presidents should know that the real threats to the implementation of the peace in the country who try to sabotage everything to their own benefit i.e a peaceful South Sudan will be an end to their loot.
It is these individuals who are responsible for failure of the Ministry of Finance & Economic 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, no wonder the biggest headache to the finance ministry is so many fake claims.
Our in-depth investigation into criminal enterprise looting resources will start with Bibi Ali Assets in Juba, his acclaimed $millions debts from individual businessmen and the government.
In the heart of the capital, Juba Bibi Ali owns ranges of multimillion dollars properties from Auto Mobile to complex apartments. Chief among them is Bibi Empire Luxury Car Company at Mobil Roundabout, Bibi Empire apartments (Twin Tower) next to MTN South Sudan main headquarters.
He has received this millions of US dollars from the Ministry of Defense & Veterans affairs 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 AMOK which do South Sudanese wheeler-dealers and cartels Bibi Ali, owns some shares etc. 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, and food security, manufacturing and industrial production. If implemented, the project has potential to lift up millions of South Sudanese people out of poverty.
However, as the saying goes, all that glitters is not gold. An in-depth investigation by our investigation 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 investigation shows that Silwana Diamond General Trading LLC, a shell company owned by Kur Ajing through proxies has pipeline plans of payment of about 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”.
This company called Amuk or (AMOK) General Trading LLC which is co-owned by Bibi Ali, Kur Ajing Ater, his wife Christina Achol 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 Bibi and his businesses 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 Unified Forces as directed by President Salva Kiir Mayardit has been pocketed by the Presidential Advisor, Tut Gatluak and Bibi Ali.
Reliable sources have also revealed to this author that Silwana Global Group is Shell Company being used by Bibi with the backing of former National Congress Party member and Presidential Advisor on Security, 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 seventeen (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!
Kur Ajing and Bibi Ali 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 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
Also Bibi Ali and his business partner Deng Chagai (husband to Anok Salva Kiir Mayardit) brought on board a 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 Bibi together with 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-appoint 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!
To be sure, there are similarities between two savvy politicians. Like Bibi, Tut Khew comes from humble beginnings. His rags-to-riches story, political charm and human touch have resonated with ordinary South Sudanese. Bibi is a self-branded “hustler”, while Tut marketed himself as a man of the Nuer people and later as the champion of “radical economic transformation”.
The only differences between the two cartels is that Bibi Ali was a butcher in Australia in early 2000s like his father back in 1970s, a sewage oxen driver (black, white spotted bull and pure grey bull respectively) in Gogrial town. Now he is on everyone a throat intimidating and threatening legitimate businessmen.
His staggering corrupt assets start with Bibi Twins’s apartment (Bibi Empire) built on grabbed Episcopal Church of South Sudan Land, the same company co-owned Bibi Luxury Motor, also tower built in a police land next to City Mall. All these assets if combined could roughly stand at $500 million.
Another damning secret is his offshore assets overseas that we will exhaust in details. He has built multi-million dollars mansions in Khartoum, Australia, Dubai and Nairobi
46 millions USD to Kur Ajing and is demanding a sky rocking commission of 100% which could amount to 92millions USD. Where on else can individual business For example, Bibi has patronized South Sudan’s Oil money and claimed to have loaned personnel would be given a leverage to use a national treasure for his own self-fish interest? In this regard, the ministry of justice raised an alarm and issued an order no: 01 2021 decrying the alleged buusiness and disband a cancer cheque cancellation as illegal. Despite this Bibi insisted and went to rent tent for his personal ego and ambition. As we speak, Bibi is either the south Sudan’s richest man alive or second and this accumulated wealth is gained from cancer cheque illegal business.
It is a bitter truth that business cartels like Bibi Ali are the reason why South Sudan Peoples Defense Forces (SSPDF) are going hungry and without pay for months.
A fraction of their loot is also enough to pay civil servants salary for several months among the many troubles the country is under going.
While stunning revelations continue to emerge daily regarding the extent to which Bibi Ali is looting the treasury, most South Sudanese are gutted by the lack of accountability, and the gross lack of transparency regarding his loots from overseas despite conditions mandating proper use/ application of such funds.
The breathtaking extent of corruption perpetrated by Bibi Ali and his family was exposed in our secret report that laid bare a web of shell companies, secret trusts and front men that his entourage used to funnel hundreds of millions of pounds into nearly 5 countries including Australia.
Some members of Bibi family are revealed through the leaked Papers as being variously connected to three offshore companies. The documents reveal that family members have used offshore companies to own three properties in the Dubai. One, a flat near Lovington in Nairobi, now worth an estimated $ 65 million. This leaked Paper also show that his sons, daughters and the wife Chagai Mourwel who manage large sections of the family’s businesses, owned an offshore company with a portfolio of cash, stocks, and bonds worth $98.6 million in 2020.
The investigation contains only a handful of clues about the purpose of the Bibi Ali’ offshore interests or what funds and assets they might have placed in these secretive entities.
Truth is 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.
The Presidency should take measures against this known fraudster called Bibi Ali, The United States Pressure Advocacy groups particularly Sentry and United States government under the administration of President Joe Biden should impose more punitive sanctions against this corrupt oligarch who has 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 Bibi Empire and Silwana General Trading.
What Can Be Done?
Corruption is the state of play in South Sudan and a key driver of conflict and political crises. The government of South Sudan is awarding billions in contracts, often without a competitive tender process, to companies that appear to be controlled by sanctioned persons close to the president. These are US dollar-denominated contracts, and companies like Bibi Empire are importing materials from countries that often conduct trade in US dollars.
While the government of South Sudan is not technically prohibited from issuing contracts to companies connected to US-sanctioned individuals, the fact remains that these individuals were designated for documented instances of corruption, and yet it appears that they continue to be granted access to public funds. If the government of South Sudan wishes to eliminate grand corruption, it must conduct proper due diligence on companies before entering contract agreements, and it must break the cycle of issuing contracts to friends of high-level officials, many of whom receive kickbacks for similar deals. The United States The Treasury Department should investigate and, if appropriate, impose sanctions pursuant to Executive Order 13818 (Global Magnitsky) on the individuals and entities named in this report:
The US should also engage partners in the United Kingdom (UK) to urge them to designate Bibi Ali, and his networks using the UK’s new anti-corruption sanctions authority. The US government should amend the South Sudan and Global Magnitsky Executive Orders to include a provision concerning immediate family members of sanctioned individuals. The US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) should update the existing 2017 advisory on political corruption risks in South Sudan to include sanctions evasion red flags.
FinCEN advisories play a critical role in anti-corruption and sanctions enforcement efforts. Both US and international banks should be alerted to pay closer attention to collecting information on South Sudanese entities under sanctions. The US should continue to engage South Sudan on taking steps to build strong corporate transparency, oversight, and accountability mechanisms. Sanctions are often only as effective as their implementation.
The US should closely engage South Sudan’s government and relevant stakeholders on sanctions enforcement and better implementation of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) laws. It should also provide support for South Sudan’s efforts to become a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body focused on members’ implementation of global AML/CFT standards.
Locally at home; the civil societies, anti-corruption commission and all citizens of good will to speak up and call for action against this cartel before these corrupt cartels sell off our beloved country.
The author is a concerned South Sudanese and a student of journalism and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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