Clooney, Cheadle urge action to stop pilfering of South Sudan resources

Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:15pm EDT
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By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The leaders on both sides of South Sudan's civil war and their families have profited off the conflict, amassing fortunes through links with bankers, arms dealers and oil companies, according to a report released on Monday by actors George Clooney and Don Cheadle.

At a news conference to present the report, they called on the international community to cut off the leaders' financial flows through tougher sanctions.

The report follows a two-year undercover investigation by The Sentry, a group co-founded by Clooney and fellow activist John Prendergast to look into the financing of African conflicts and comes at a time when the United Nations is threatening to impose an arms embargo against South Sudan's government.

The group said a network of international facilitators stretched from arms dealers in Ukraine to construction companies in Turkey, mining firms in Kenya, and Chinese investors involved in joint ventures in gambling and private security sectors in South Sudan.

According to the report, South Sudan's leader President Salva Kiir, his former deputy Riek Machar and military generals have pilfered state coffers, accumulated an array of luxury homes and cars, and enriched themselves and family members through stakes in oil and other business ventures.

Spokesmen for Kiir and Machar both denied the leaders had properties in Kenya or other African countries, as the report alleged.

The report also said South Sudanese army chief Paul Malong, who makes roughly $45,000 a year, has at least two luxurious villas in Uganda in addition to a $2 million mansion in a gated community in Nairobi.

The report said family members of top government officials have stakes in commercial ventures in South Sudan. Local laws forbid constitutional office holders from engaging in business activities outside the government while in office, it said.   Continued...

George Clooney (C), with fellow actor Don Cheadle (R) and The Sentry investigative journalist Brian Adeba (L), discuss The Sentry's investigation of the role of national corruption in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, U.S. September 12, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst