A new report has listed some Ugandan businessmen as working as proxies for powerful South Sudan generals to invest in companies and other property in Uganda.
On December 15, 2013 a civil war broke out in the newly formed South Sudan after President Salva Kiir accused his deputy Riek Machar of attempting to overthrow the government together with 10 of his colleagues.
Machar denied attempting a coup and fled to lead a splinter group of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in opposition to start a six year war that climaxed in 2019 with the formation of a coalition government, two months later in 2020.
However, according to a new report by The Sentry, a US based investigative the six years of active combat during the civil war saw competition for resources by South Sudan army generals and government officials.
This was highlighted by general looting and self-aggrandizement under the guise of younger family members and intermediaries in neighboring countries; Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia, the report says.
“South Sudan’s last four army chiefs of staff, four high-ranking military leaders, and three opposition militia leaders have engaged in business activities indicative of money laundering and corruption,” the report released this week reads.
According to the comprehensive report the looting and amassing of wealth took on a general pattern “in which individuals serving at the top echelons of the military, militia forces, and government attempt to disguise their beneficial ownership of companies through the use of minor children and other relatives, a major red flag for money laundering.”
The Sentry report reads: “The civil war that plagued South Sudan for more than six years was a competition over resources in a country that, while rich in oil and minerals, remains one of the poorest in the world due to rampant corruption. The military and security apparatus that captured these resources long before the country’s founding is now battling to maintain control. The consequences are grave for the average South Sudanese.”
According to the report, whereas over half of the population between 2018 and 2019 lived on the brink of starvation in the civil war that left an estimated 383,000 people dead, army generals in the continent’s youngest nation focused on amassing wealth that they invested abroad.
In many instances, the report says, these notorious army generals have sought Ugandan intermediaries to carry on their businesses in guise.
The report named former army chief Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak as one said to have plundered government funds and purchased a pompous home in Kampala using an intermediary.
The house according to the report is located in Kololo is in the names of a Kampala based lawyer, but under the ample use of Jok Riak’s family.
The posh house according to the Sentry cost the “lawyer” Shs1.2 billion money which reportedly landed on his account from a petroleum firm in Nairobi in March 2014.
Incorporation documents reviewed by The Sentry indicate that Jok Riak has held a minority stake in at least four South Sudan-registered companies while serving in high-level military positions, alongside army engineering department commander General Kiir Garang de Kuek, as well as foreign nationals from India and Uganda
His Ugandan intermediaries have been identified as family members of a one Haji Abas Kangave.
Kangave according to the report, runs the Haks Sudan Limited which deals in imports and exports with a colleague identified as Hussein Kangave but it is said , Riak holds majority shares in the company to approximately Shs473 million.
Riak also said to own Zenith Company Limited with at least 20 per cent shares.
The report has also isolated a one Jimmy Gwayambadde as an apparent proprietor of Integrated Construction Solutions which indeed belongs to a one Paul Malong Awan who was the army chief of South Sudan between May 2014 and May 2017.
Sentry says that Malong used his power to amass wealth and that while fleeing from South Sudan, he was nabbed with millions of money in US dollars and later bought a posh mansion in upscale Keny(Nyari estate).
The report indicates that Malong however continues to run a string of his businesses through his wife Ajok Wol Atak and at least three of his children—Garang, Awan, and Cecilia.
It is through Ajok Atak that Gwayambadde was contacted to run a little known company without any internet footprints.
The aim according to the report was to channel money and purchase assets within Uganda.
The report has also placed a property on plot 11, Hill Lane Kololo in Uganda as one belonging to South Sudan notorious army chief Oyay Deng Ajak.
Deng was at the helm of the army between 2005 and 2009, but with the help of a Ugandan official who recommended him an intermediary, set up business routes in Uganda which would be run by his wife Lydia Apajok Yaak, the report indicates.
The choice of the government official was to ensure Deng and his wife disguise as dealers in agricultural products and that indeed, they made a Shs284 million transaction which went to purchasing trucks for transporting food to South Sudan through a prominent tycoon in agriculture business.
Within the same time, Deng reportedly acquired the Kololo mansion through a Ugandan intermediary at the rate of Shs6 billion, the report says.
According to the report, the intermediaries for Deng and wife in Uganda have been identified as Charles Bromel Muwanga, and Martin Bongomin Isaac who all claim to be running a little known company dubbed Cassic.
“Their posts provided easy access to government funds that appear to have financed luxurious lifestyles for relatives overseas in some instances, instead of desperately needed infrastructure, economic development, education, and health services at home,” the report says.