JUBA, South Sudan: The tough US President Donald Trump and his government have slapped ‘hard’ sanctions on top corrupt South Sudan government officials, The Investigator can reveal.
Those to dance to the tunes of the US governments sanctions music, including freezing of all their ‘ill’ gotten wealth in the US include sacked head of the army Gen. Paul Malong Awan, the Information Minister Michael Makuei, and Malek Reuben, the former head of logistics for the worlds’ youngest nation.
Makuei was reportedly involved in planning and coordinating the April 17th 2014 attack on the United Nations (UN) compound in the Jonglei State capital of Bor, which killed three UN guards and 140 civilians, mostly women and children, as well as injurring as many as 270.
Malek Reuben is now the Deputy Chief of Defense Forces and Inspector General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). Malong who was fired by President Salva Kiir in May this year was implicated in the deadly clashes mid last year that left thousands dead and millions displaced.
Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, believed to be one of the richest army officials in Juba has also had all his firms banned from engaging in any business with the US or any of its citizens.
The US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, in a press release warned that other measures might follow if South Sudanese leaders do not seriously engage in the peace process.
The Investigator has established that Malong, Malek and Makuei have been named as the beneficiaries of the four year civil strife that has rocked South Sudan, leaving half of her population, 6 million on the verge of hunger and an additional three million under refuge in Uganda.
According to documents we chanced a lengthy perusal, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) have been tasked with ensuring that the sanctions bite and… immediately.
“These actions send a clear message to those enriching themselves at the expense of the South Sudanese people that we will not let them exploit the U.S. financial system to move and hide the proceeds of their corruption and malign behavior,” said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
“Treasury will forcefully respond to the atrocities ongoing in South Sudan by targeting those who abuse human rights, seek to derail the peace process, and obstruct reconciliation in South Sudan,” he summed.
According to the sanctions announced on Wednesday pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13664, which authorizes sanctions against persons who threaten the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan, the trio and their entities’ assets within U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. peoples are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them. They are also not allowed to step foot on the American soil.
Malek had sanctions slapped on him among others, for actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, and stability of South Sudan, and actions or policies that have the purpose of expanding or extending the conflict in South Sudan or obstructing reconciliation and or peace talks.
Between 2013 and 2016, Malek Reuben held the position of Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics of the South Sudanese military, known as the SPLA. This position played a central role in weapons’ procurement for the first several years of the conflict.
Malek Reuben was reportedly one of a group of senior security officials responsible for planning the April 2015 offensive in Unity State, which reportedly included widespread destruction, targeting of civilians, large population displacement, and numerous human rights abuses.
UN experts determined that ammunition supplied by the SPLA to youth groups was critical in sustaining the offensive. Malek Reuben allegedly supported a hardline position in a mid-2015 meeting of the National Liberation Council, which met and decided to reject a draft peace proposal.
The Investigator has established from highly placed South Sudanese Generals that in 2013, Riak apparently facilitated the procurement of $38 million worth of arms and equipment including 100 anti-tank guided missile launchers, 1,200 missiles, 9,574 automatic rifles, 2,394 40mm grenade launchers, 20 million rounds of 7.62x39mm ammunition, 319 general-purpose machine guns, 2 million rounds of 7.62×54 ammunition, 660 pistols, 2 million rounds of 9x19mm ammunition, and 40,000 rounds of high explosive rocket ammunition.
Information indicates that, in early 2015, Malek Reuben attended a meeting during which officials of the South Sudan Ministry of Defense met with representatives of an arms firm offering to supply the SPLA with heavy military equipment.
At the time, the SPLA sought tanks, artillery pieces, armored personnel carriers, and heavy machine guns. Information further indicates that, in early 2016, Malek Reuben traveled with a delegation to a neighboring country where he appealed to the government to sell S. Sudan ammunition and secure spare parts for its attack helicopters.
Malek Reuben is further accused of fabricating procurement contracts for food provision to SPLA troops. He also, reportedly controls a private company, Mak International Services Co Ltd, that sells explosives to private companies in South Sudan in an arrangement promoted on an exclusive basis by the SPLA, and received payments and cash deposits of hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars by foreign-backed companies.
The Investigator can further reveal that also banned as Malek’s firms are the All Energy Investments Ltd, A+ Engineering, Electronics & Media Printing Co. Ltd, and Mak International Services Co Ltd – all based in South Sudan.
On his part, we have established that Malong – knowingly countermanding orders from President Salva Kiir, reportedly ordered the July 10th 2016 tank, helicopter gunship, and infantry assaults on then-First Vice President Riak Machar’s residence and the opposition’s ‘Jebel’ base in Juba.
He was reportedly responsible for attempted efforts to kill Machar, and continued to press his commanders to capture or kill him. In April 2017, Malong allegedly ordered the SPLA to clear all people from the areas around Wau to include civilians, and continued to try clear the opposition forces from Wau and other areas around.
Additionally, Malong is believed to have been involved in acts of corruption. After his dismissal and flight from Juba, Malong was stopped outside of Juba in early May 2017 and reportedly found currency worth millions of USDs in his possession which he had allegedly stolen from the SPLA treasury.
Malong is reported to have several properties in Uganda and Kenya while several of his children own stakes in companies that appear to operate in a wide range of business sectors, including a petroleum company.