29th October 2020
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Leaders have stolen over $36m since 2016 – UN

Author: Memo Lasuba | Published: Thursday, September 24, 2020

Yasmin Sooka, chair of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, during a visit to Juba in September 2016 | Credit | UN

The United Nations Human Rights Commission has accused some politicians and senior government officials of siphoning off at least $36 million from South Sudan since 2016.

The amount is what the institution was able to trace for the last 4 years, according to the commission’s chairperson, adding that much more remains unaccounted for.

Yasmin Sooka explained that their findings revealed illicit financial flow from two key institutions – the ministry of finance and the national revenue authority.

“Our commission has uncovered brazen embezzlement by senior politicians and government officials, together with a number of entities linked to the government,” she told a UN panel during a teleconference on Wednesday.

Ms Sooka’s remarks come days after the firing of finance minister, Salvatore Garang and the acting commissioner-general of the national revenue authority, Erjok Bullen Geu.

“It is worth noting this [$36m] is just what we were able to trace and may not reflect the whole picture,” she stated.

“This reflects illicit financial flow from the ministry of finance and the national revenue authority.”

The revenue authority had informed a parliamentary committee early this month that the country lost -to tax exemptions – almost 40 billion South Sudanese Pounds in just three months alone.

Similarly, the Economic Crises Management Committee discovered that $3.1 million had disappeared at the Directorate of Nationalities, Passport and Immigration.

The traffic police headquarters has also been accused of not accounting for funds collected through the issuance of number plates, licenses, and the logbooks.

The UN Rights Commission believes that some of these revenues have been stashed abroad.

“Some of these monies have been loaned through the virtues property abroad,” Ms Sooka continued.

She attributed this to the scarcity of hard currency reserve at the Central Bank of South Sudan.

Several reports carried out by campaign groups such as The Sentry, Global Witness and Transparency International showed that the leaders have stolen hundreds of millions of dollars with the help of foreign businesspeople.

They blamed it on lack of financial accountability and transparency coupled with impunity.

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