South Sudan: Watchdog Report Claims Profiteers Have Looted Billions From South Sudan

A publicity image from The Taking of South Sudan report.

A large array of international players, including corporate giants in the United States and China, have profited from South Sudan's long civil war, according to a report by a Washington-based watchdog group.

The Sentry, which reports on links between corruption and mass atrocities in Africa, charged in its report released Thursday  in London that several business owners and corporate entities engaged in widespread, government-sanctioned corruption, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese during the civil war.

"Dar Petroleum, a multinational oil consortium led by the China National Petroleum Corporation, is not just a passive beneficiary of the horrific status quo. The company actively participated in the destruction of South Sudan," George Clooney, an actor and co-founder of The Sentry, said at the group's news conference in London.

The oil giant "supported deadly militias, polluted communities, endangering hundreds of thousands of people, and paid off government officials along the way," Clooney said.

The Sentry's other co-founder, John Prendergast, praised the U.S. Treasury Department for its actions to end the chain of corruption connected to U.S. assets.

"Rather than just sanctioning one official at a time, the U.S. Treasury Department has frozen the U.S. assets and dollar-denominated transactions of entire networks of people and companies complicit in terrorism, nuclear proliferation, drug trafficking and other illicit activity," he said.

Prendergast urged the U.S. and U.K. governments to investigate Dar Petroleum's activities in South Sudan and, "if appropriate, impose these kinds of sanctions" on the Chinese company and other entities and individuals named in The Sentry report.

The report found that throughout South Sudan's 5½-year civil war, international investors "have been willing to form commercial partnerships" with senior politicians and members of their families, several of which had ties to violent activities.

It said a multinational oil consortium in South Sudan, controlled by China's Dar Petroleum and Malaysia's state-owned oil firm, Petronas, provided "material support to a pro-government militia that committed atrocities, including the burning of entire villages, targeting civilians, and an attack on a U.N. protection-of-civilians site."

The report said Ara Dolarian, an American arms dealer operating from Fresno, California, tried to sell $43 million worth of weapons in early 2018 to General Paul Malong, identified as a "warlord" by The Sentry, who was fired by President Salva Kiir and has since formed his own rebel group.

The report also accused two British citizens of forming an oil company with "a warlord," Lieutenant General David Yau Yau, who has been accused of "forcibly recruiting thousands of child soldiers."

It cites a 2013 report by the Human Security Baseline Assessment for Sudan and South Sudan that found Yau Yau's troops "killed and raped civilians, looted property and slaughtered those who will not join [his] rebellion." (Yau Yau is a Murle militia leader who led a military rebellion against the government, leading to the creation of the Greater Pibor Administrative. Yau Yau was appointed administrator of the region by Kiir.)

The Sentry recommends the U.S., European Union, Australia and Canada investigate and, if appropriate, sanction the individuals and entities named in the report. It also advises banks and governments to act to "prevent the purchase of luxury real estate by South Sudanese elites and their international enablers."

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