The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has published a report that claims that high-ranking politicians and bureaucrats in the country have stolen at least $36m in public funds, sometimes with the collusion of international corporations and banks, reported Al Jazeera.
The UN panel’s report came just a few days after President Salva Kiir dismissed the finance minister, the head of the tax-gathering National Revenue Authority, and the director of the state-owned oil company. President Kiir did not provide any explanation for sacking the senior officials, apart from citing his constitutional powers to appoint and remove public servants.
“Our Commission has uncovered brazen embezzlement by senior politicians and government officials, together with a number of entities linked to the government,” Yasmin Sooka, the UN panel’s chairperson, said. “We can reveal the misappropriation of a staggering $36m since 2016. It is worth noting this is just what we were able to trace and may not reflect the whole picture.”
Sooka added that the figure relates to illegal financial movements from South Sudan’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and from the National Revenue Authority.
He said a number of international corporations and multinational banks have helped the South Sudanese institutions to carry out the crimes. He added that some of the money has been laundered through the purchase of properties abroad as well as in South Sudan.
Set up in 2016, the commission has previously accused South Sudan politicians of pocketing state funds, but the latest report provides its most detailed allegations yet.
South Sudan is currently reeling with the aftermath of a six-year civil war that led to the death of 380,000 people and crippled the output of crude oil, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the state revenue. The country has reported over 2600 coronavirus cases so far.