The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has sanctioned two businessmen in South Sudan for what it says is their involvement in corruption.
Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal and Kur Ajing Ater have been accused by OFAC of having “robbed critical resources from a war-torn country.”
Five companies owned or controlled by Al-Cardinal and one company-owned or controlled by Ajing have also been sanctioned.
The U.S says the two continue to profit while the “population of South Sudan faces food insecurity, and an estimated one-third of South Sudanese have been forced to flee their homes.”
In a statement issued today, the Department of Treasury designated the two individuals and entities pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.
“Al-Cardinal and Ajing leverage their businesses and political connections to engage in corruption at great expense to the South Sudanese people,” OFAC said.
Through the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountable Act, the United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons.
“Today’s action demonstrates continued U.S. commitment to prevent and combat corruption globally,” the statement partially reads.
OFAC urges the government of South Sudan “to take seriously the clear linkage between corrupt activities and the motive of some elites to disrupt the peace agreement.”
It said the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement has reached a critical stage.
The U.S further called on President Salva Kiir’s administration to take urgent measures to increase transparency and enforce accountability against those involved in systemic corruption.
“Privileged elites should not be allowed to profit from conflict as they undermine efforts to bring lasting peace to South Sudan.”
According to today’s sanctions, all property and interests in property of the Mr. Al-Cardinal and Mr. Ajing, their entities, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC.
OFAC warned any American from dealing with the two businessmen or their business ventures.
“These South Sudanese elites and corrupt government officials have drained state coffers and usurped the country’s resources with impunity.
Breakdown of charges:
Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal
Sudanese businessman Al-Cardinal has been used by a senior South Sudanese government official as an intermediary to deposit and hold a large amount of funds in a country outside of South Sudan.
Following OFAC’s designation of Benjamin Bol Mel in December 2017, the senior South Sudanese official began to use a bank account in the name of one of Al-Cardinal’s companies to store his personal funds in an attempt to avoid the effects of potential sanctions designations.
Further, in early 2019, the South Sudanese government made millions of dollars in payments to a company owned by Al-Cardinal; while the official reason was for the payment for food, the money instead went to senior South Sudanese government officials.
Other South Sudanese government officials have expressed dissatisfaction with the massive corruption in the South Sudanese government, noting that although large amounts of money were paid to Al-Cardinal for supplies and provisions, government forces never seemed to be adequately supplied.
Separately, a company partially owned by Al-Cardinal has been publicly implicated in the importation of amphibious armored vehicles into South Sudan that gave the Government of South Sudan the ability to extend offensives that included violent attacks on innocent civilians.
Five companies owned or controlled by Al-Cardinal were also designated today: Alcardinal General Trading Limited, Alcardinal General Trading LLC, Al Cardinal Investments Co. LTD, Alcardinal Petroleum Company limited, and NILETEL.
Al-Cardinal is being designated for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.
Kur Ajing Ater
Ajing is a South Sudanese businessman who has bribed key officials in the Government of South Sudan in order to maintain influence and access to the South Sudanese oil market.
Ajing used these bribes to both curry favor with a senior gatekeeper within the Government of South Sudan and to ensure the silence and compliance of a key government officials. In late 2018, the South Sudanese government made a large cash payment to Ajing. While the official reason was for the payment of food, the money instead went directly to a senior South Sudanese government official.
In addition, Ajing has been obligated large amounts of oil by the Government of South Sudan, and has given money and vehicles to government officials in return. Ajing has claimed to have paid senior officials millions of dollars and has cooperated with the request of a senior official to route oil payments in cash rather than through official bank accounts.
Further, Ajing was the recipient of a multi-year contract to purchase food for the South Sudanese military, and in return, paid a percentage of the contract back to a senior South Sudanese government official.
According to public media reports, Ajing received millions of dollars in contracts for the South Sudanese military, including one contract that alone exceeds the total amount budgeted for the military’s goods and services for the year by a factor of ten.
Ajing is being designated for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.
One company owned or controlled by Ajing was also designated on Friday: Lou Trading and Investment Company Limited.
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