The Sentry Featured in New Investigative Series by Africa Uncensored
Produced by John-Allan Namu, the series of videos and articles covers Kenya’s role in human rights violations and corruption in South Sudan
March 18, 2021 (Nairobi) — The Sentry’s findings on corruption in South Sudan are featured in a new series of videos and articles from Africa Uncensored, one of Kenya’s premier independent investigative media organizations. Produced by John-Allan Namu and his team, the series details how South Sudan’s politically connected figures responsible for ongoing conflict and human rights violations rely on facilitation from Kenya, other neighboring countries, and the broader international financial system.
The series of articles and videos document:
- Corruption in South Sudan’s mining sector
- The roles played by Kenya and South Sudan’s National Security Service in the abduction and murder of activists Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Ezbon Idri
- Loopholes in Kenya’s anti-money laundering framework, including gaps in enforcement in their real estate and banking sectors
The next and final installment of the series, soon to be released, will highlight key examples of potential money laundering by South Sudanese elites and their intermediaries through the purchase of luxury real estate in Kenya and neighboring countries.
The series follows the success of Africa Uncensored’s 2018 documentary The Profiteers, which spotlighted the work of The Sentry and led to political attention and public demonstrations in Kenya against corruption.
The Sentry recommends that South Sudan, Kenya, and the wider international community take the following concrete steps to address the corruption exposed in the series:
The government of South Sudan must implement all aspects of the 2018 revitalized peace agreement in a timely manner and in good faith. This includes:
- Establishing a hybrid court to hold war criminals accountable for gross human rights violations and economic crimes committed during the civil conflict
- Implementing the security arrangements to create a truly unified military, and including security organizations like the National Security Service (NSS) in this integration process
- Reconstituting the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) so that it can perform basic legislative and oversight functions. Once reconstituted, the NLA should:
- Revisit the National Security Act of 2014, with the specific aim of reforming it to support civil liberties, eliminate articles that promote impunity for rights violations, and establish strong oversight mechanisms for the NSS.
- Vet the selection of the head of the NSS, who should have clear term limits.
In order to protect Kenya’s financial system from the abuse illustrated in the series, Kenyan banks and their regulators must lead the way in implementing stricter standards for anti-money laundering, anti-corruption, and sanctions enforcement. This includes:
- Updating global policies with risk indicators to trigger enhanced due diligence at customer onboarding and for all deals involving South Sudanese politically exposed persons
- Carrying out enhanced due diligence and enhanced ongoing monitoring, screening, and transaction reviews for accounts held or beneficially owned by senior South Sudanese politically exposed persons (PEPs)
- Knowing their clients’ business interests in oil or mining, and those who source natural resources from South Sudan, particularly when offering open account credit
- Training staff to identify red flags for money laundering and corruption as related to South Sudan
Additionally, the government of Kenya should:
- Support the domestic implementation of United Nations, European Union, United States, and United Kingdom sanctions by local businesses.
- Have law enforcement investigate businesses that supply military equipment to any actor in South Sudan in violation of the current UN arms embargo.
- Examine national property and business registers to identify assets and companies owned and operated by South Sudanese PEPs, their family members, and associates.
- Investigate and sound the alarm on corrupt real estate acquisitions and pursue assets seizures as a means of supporting peace in South Sudan.
United States, United Kingdom, European Union, and the international community
The international community should continue to closely engage South Sudan and neighboring countries on transparency and accountability and should reenergize the deployment of previously successful policy tools and measures. More specifically, they should:
- Raise the alarm on South Sudanese PEP real estate purchases. The United States Treasury Department could declare the purchase of real estate outside South Sudan by government-connected elites to be a primary money-laundering concern. The Treasury could further refine this action by specifying a range of values of property that are particularly of concern—for example, properties whose value exceeds $300,000. By issuing a public finding on the damaging trend of South Sudanese officials buying real estate that in some cases may be used to hide illicit funds, financial institutions would need to take special measures to address the financial abuse
- Engage Kenyan authorities on sanctions enforcement and anti-money laundering measures. Sanctions are often only as good as their enforcement. The US along with the UK, EU, and UN, should engage Kenyan authorities on stricter enforcement of sanctions. The US, UK and their partners should also work with Kenya authorities and regulators to better implement anti-money laundering measures.The 2018 visit by US Treasury Department Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker to Kenya and Uganda focused on regional efforts to tackle illicit flows and was an excellent example of engagement by a US official.
- Focus on implementation of Chapter IV. Checks on impunity for corruption and human rights abuses are key for the future stability of South Sudan. International donors and organizations supporting implementation of the peace agreement in South Sudan should pressure South Sudan’s government to enact Chapter IV of the peace agreement, which covers economic reforms, good governance, transparency, and accountability.