• Memoranda and articles of incorporation reviewed by The Sentry reveal that politically exposed persons— both Presiden Kiir’s close associates and lower-level ministers—have held shares in no fewer than 32 South Sudanese companies established to extract minerals.
• Kiir’s daughter partly owns a company with three active mining licenses.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir/ COURTESY
JUBA – South Sudan’s promising gold-dominated minerals sector is riddled with corruption involving President Salva Kiir’s relatives and inner circle, military leaders, and other high-level officials, The Sentry has said.
A report published by The Sentry on April 2 further exposes illegal mining now underway in Eastern Equatoria state, where the governor has ties to numerous mining businesses, as well as the Ministry of Defence’s involvement in problematic mining licensing deals.
The Sentry is an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers.
At a time when South Sudan’s government most needs to generate resources for urgent public health-related challenges including the Covid-19 pandemic, one of its promising revenue streams is beset by mismanagement and corruption.
Memoranda and articles of incorporation reviewed by The Sentry reveal that politically exposed persons— both Presiden Kiir’s close associates and lower-level ministers—have held shares in no fewer than 32 South Sudanese companies established to extract minerals.
Kiir’s daughter partly owns a company with three active mining licenses.
A company with three mining licenses lists former Vice President James Wani Igga’s son as a shareholder.
“Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, a businessman commonly known as Al-Cardinal who was placed under Global Magnitsky sanctions in October 2019, reportedly owns the company currently holding the most mining licenses,” The Sentry said in a statement.
In the gold-rich region of Kapoeta, state government officials have issued licenses independently of the central government, a probable violation of South Sudan’s Mining Act that has allowed illegal mining to take place on land previously allocated by Juba to other companies.
South Sudan’s military has developed problematic mining interests in an effort to address budgetary shortfalls.
Untapped and Unprepared: Dirty Deals Threaten South Sudan’s Mining Sector warns that, without strong reforms, abuse in the minerals sector could spur the same kind of resource-driven violence that plagued the petroleum industry throughout civil wars fought on South Sudanese soil dating back to the 1980s.
John Prendergast, co-counder of The Sentry, said, “Through close relatives and allied government officials, President Salva Kiir is linked to dozens of mining companies in South Sudan. The president’s core network has used its control of the minerals sector to consolidate its grip on South Sudan’s state revenues and natural resources.”
He added that if South Sudan’s people are to benefit from the country’s mineral wealth, including lifesaving healthcare urgently needed in the face of a global pandemic, financial institutions should take immediate steps to identify and monitor the bank accounts of those in power, their business networks, families, and inner circles.”
The Sentry further established that Kiir’s close associates and lower-level ministers have held shares in no fewer than 32 South Sudanese companies established to extract minerals.
The government has yet to disclose crucial information about their ownership structures, activities, or open applications for licenses, undermining public scrutiny of a sector already at heightened risk for corruption and raising questions about who benefits from South Sudan’s mineral wealth.
Sophie Lombardo, Investigator for The Sentry, said, “Without swift action, South Sudan’s mining sector may fall into the same traps as the oil sector, which has helped drive war in South Sudan for decades.”
“Military interests abound, either through joint ventures with private investors or companies controlled by the Ministry of Defense. The Sentry’s investigative findings reveal opaque and questionable deals that raise significant concerns about secret off-budget revenues within an institution marred by a history of abuse.”