Gideon Moi accused of making money off war ravaged South Sudan

Sunday September 22 2019

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi (left) when he paid

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi (left) when he paid a courtesy call on South Sudan's President Salva Kiir at State House, Juba, in April 2019. PHOTO | NMG POOL  

By KIPCHUMBA SOME

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi is among a group of powerful international businessmen and multinational companies who are profiting from the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, claims a new report.

The report titled “The Taking of South Sudan” was prepared by the Sentry, a non-profit investigative team founded by American actor George Clooney to monitor conflicts in Africa.

STAKES

The 64-page report alleges that South Sudan President Salva Kiir and his family own stakes in banks, foreign exchange bureaus, airlines, oil companies, logistics firms, private security companies among others, mainly through partnerships with investors from across the globe.

It alleges that Senator Moi has a stake in a South Sudan-registered firm Lukiza Ltd, which formed a joint venture called Caltec Corporation with Conex Energy, a company allegedly controlled by President Kiir’s daughter Adut.

“Just two months after the December 2013 massacres in Juba, Conex Energy, a company controlled by Kiir’s daughter Adut, his son-in-law Nardos Ghebeyehu and Akot Lual Arech — a close adviser to the President affiliated with the NSS (National Security Services) — formed the joint venture Caltec Corporation with South Sudan-registered Lukiza Limited,” said the report.

Advertisement

It added: “Gideon Moi, an influential senator who is the son of former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, has a partial ownership stake in Lukiza. Caltec’s website describes the firm as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to specifically engage in the provision of services in the oil sector, waste management, drilling, logistics and air transportation are among the services it says it provides.’”

In response, the Senator through his aide Alex Kiprotich, Saturday dismissed the report as “work of fantasy and fiction”. “All those allegations are nothing but pure lies,” he said.

LEGAL SUIT

“I am not a shareholder of the company and I have never and I am not profiting from the proceeds of war as alleged in the fictitious report. I have neither received any single cent from the government of South Sudan nor am I doing any business with the South Sudan government. My lawyers are already in the process of instituting legal proceedings against The Sentry and its authors,” he said.

His father, retired President Moi, was instrumental in mediating the South Sudan peace process when he was president from 1978 to 2002 and has maintained close contacts with the country’s leaders since then.

In May, President Kiir visited Mr Moi at his home in Kabarak to condole with him following the passing of his first born son Jonathan. According to a statement released from the office of the former president, the two leaders also talked about peace initiatives in the troubled South Sudan.

Another Kenyan businessman mentioned in the report as having close business links with members of South Sudan’s first family is Krupa Patel, who is alleged to have formed a consortium called Finejet S.S. Limited with Kenyan oil supplier Finejet Africa Holdings Limited. President Kiir’s daughter Adut is alleged to have a stake in the consortium.

DISPLACED

A fellow Kenyan businessman mentioned in the report as having business ties with President Kiir’s family is Abdikadir Osman Ahmed, who is alleged to co-own a company called Cannington Investment with another of President Kiir’s daughters called Anok.

As far as international partnerships go, the report alleges that, in March 2016, three Chinese citizens — He Yuheng, Chen Huiping and Chen Yongqiang — partnered with President Kiir’s daughter Winnie to launch Fortune Minerals and Construction Ltd in South Sudan. Six weeks after Fortune Minerals received its licence in the Amadi State city of Mundri, government troops reportedly destroyed health centres, committed mass rapes and forcibly displaced tens of thousands of people.

“By June 2017, amid reports of rampant sexual and gender-based violence, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan described Mundri as “the epicentre of the problem” due to the “recent increase in fighting … between rebels and government troops,” said the report.

CIVIL WAR

Overall, the report alleges members of President Kiir's immediate family are shareholders and directors in companies alongside dozens of foreign nationals of 13 different countries, among them Australia, the United States of America, Canada, Britain and China.

The report alleges that American arms dealer Ara Dolarian tried to sell weapons worth $43 million (Sh4.3 billion) to General Paul Malong, the much-feared former chief of general staff of South Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) who was sacked by President Kiir in 2017.

According to the report, Gen Malong, who is under United Nations sanctions for his alleged role in prolonging the civil war, was in the process of forming an armed opposition movement in Kenya after falling out with the government in Juba.

“An invoice on Dolarian Capital letterhead addressed to Paul Malong lists $43.2 million worth of weapons and ammunition, including mortar systems, RPG launchers, assault rifles and ZU-23 mobile anti-aircraft guns,” said the report.

According to the invoice, the Sentry report said, the weapons were to be sold to First Monetary Security Limited, a Kenyan company ostensibly linked to Malong, thus “illustrating how foreign companies can be used to facilitate weapons transfers.” This attempted weapons deal suggests that Malong retained access to significant amount of funds following his departure from Juba, said The Sentry report.

STOLEN

“When he was stopped outside of Juba in May 2017, Malong was carrying the equivalent of millions of US dollars in cash allegedly stolen from the SPLA treasury,” said the Sentry dossier.

Since he used a Kenyan company to set up the deal, the Sentry suggested that Kenya could potentially investigate the company involved and the source of funds.

Previous reports by the organisation claimed Gen Malong maintains a $2 million (Sh200 million) mansion in Nairobi’s upscale gated Nyari Estate, as well as two luxury homes in Uganda.

Dolarian was charged in May this year in a court in California with “illegally brokering the sale of military-grade arms and munitions, money laundering and conspiracy.”

In June 2019, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act.

The Sentry report urged Kenyan authorities to investigate and seize real estate properties possibly belonging to South Sudanese Political Exposed Persons and prevent the misuse of its real estate sector. The dossier also linked Gen Malong to another war profiteer, a Sudanese businessman called Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein, who is widely known by his pseudonym “Al-Cardinal.”

As the civil war raged on in January 2016, he established Wara Wara Investments with Gen Malong and became a shareholder in the company. The name of the company is a nod to the birthplace of Gen Malong.

VIOLATIONS

Wara Wara was allegedly incorporated on January 27, 2016 — just a day after the UN Panel of Experts released its first report on the South Sudan conflict, in which Malong’s name was mentioned 17 times in connection with human rights violations.

Al-Cardinal’s connections with the South Sudan government precedes the country’s independence. In April 2006, just over a year after the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement with Khartoum, Al-Cardinal reportedly received a contract from the transitional government of South Sudan to procure Toyota Land Cruisers for the army.

The Ministry of Finance accepted an offer from Al-Cardinal’s reported partner in the deal, Arop Trading and Investment Company Ltd, which inflated the cost of 200 Hiluxes and 100 Land Cruisers by approximately $24,000 and $40,000 a unit, respectively.

“Eight months later, Al-Cardinal purchased a £1,150,000 London property in cash (equivalent to £1,600,000 in 2018, or approximately $1,957,258),” said The Sentry report. 
In March 2007, reports surfaced that Al-Cardinal had sold 300 “significantly marked up” vehicles to the army, precipitating both his arrest and the arrest of Martin Malual Arop, Arop Trading’s owner.

TRACTORS

However, with the outbreak of war in 2013, Al-Cardinal’s logistics company was back in business after it was contracted to import spare parts for the army’s GAZ-34039 armoured vehicles.

“Russian export records available through a public database indicate that the first shipment of GAZ 34039-32 vehicles consigned to Green for Logistics Services LLC was declared in Mombasa, Kenya on August 11, 2014. Additional shipments were declared on August 22, September 29 and November 11, 2014,” said the report.

While Green for Logistics handled wartime military procurement contracts, Al Cardinal General Trading was reportedly awarded a non-competitive contract in 2015 to import 1,000 tractors through Belarusian supplier Minsk Tractor Works. Many of the tractors were said to be outdated.

“When the tractors were finally delivered more than a year later, 200 of the 1,000 vehicles were reportedly given to the South Sudanese army rather than the food insecure communities they had ostensibly been intended to serve,” said the Sentry report.

A 2017 commitment letter from the Ministry of Petroleum indicates that Al-Cardinal Investment Company Limited has been receiving payments in barrels of crude oil since January 2018 in lieu of capital for its “outstanding bill” with the government, against the law.

MILITIA

The report further accused a consortium made up of Chinese and Malaysian state-owned oil companies operating in South Sudan of providing material support to a pro-government militia that went on to commit atrocities, including violence against civilians, the burning of entire villages and an attack on a UN protection-of-civilians site.

Dar Petroleum, a company in which China National Petroleum Corporation and Malaysia’s Petronas own 41 per cent and 40 per cent respectively, is said to have close ties to the intelligence apparatus, contributed to significant environmental degradation and made payments to underwrite the petroleum minister’s lavish lifestyle.

According to the report, Dar Petroleum currently produces around 185,000 barrels per day from two oil blocks in Upper Nile State — one in Paloch and another in nearby Adar — or around 80 per cent of the total oil produced daily in South Sudan.

Dar Patroleum’s facilities became hotly contested territory almost immediately after South Sudan’s civil war began in mid-December 2013 between the government and the rebels led by former Vice President Riek Machar.

CORRESPONDENCE

“Internal records and e-mail correspondence reviewed by The Sentry indicate that Dar Petroleum played a role in providing supplies to this militia and other military units from September 2014 to July 2015,” said the report.

It further stated: “In total, The Sentry has viewed 11 separate e-mail messages from (Gieth Abraham) Dauson (an aide to then petroleum Stephen Dhieu) requesting the delivery of a total of 251 barrels of diesel fuel from Dar Petroleum to military and militia forces in Upper Nile.”

Dar Petroleum also has significant ties to South Sudan’s National Security Service (NSS). Its vice president Ramadan Chadar Dhok is a major general in the NSS as of May 2017.

In addition to past service as a spokesperson, Maj Gen Chadar has also directed Sudd Security Services Ltd, a security company confidentially owned and operated by the NSS, according to a memo reviewed by the Sentry.

Eritrean businessman Ghebremeskel Tesfamariam Ghidey, widely known as Gebre, is also accused by the Sentry of receiving more than $57 million (Sh5.7 billion) through “Letters of Credit” for goods he never delivered.

COMPLICIT

After South Sudan’s government halted oil production in 2012 amid a dispute with Khartoum, shortfalls in US dollars made importing goods next to impossible, so the government secured $922 million through oil-backed loans from Qatar National Bank and Stanbic Bank to finance procurement. The funds were allocated as “letters of credit” to more than a thousand private companies.

These companies were supposed to procure and import goods from neighbouring countries. The cash went out, but, according to the audit report, hardly any of the goods promised reached their ostensibly intended destinations.

South Sudan-registered companies owned by Gebre received 21 of the letters of credit identified in the audit report, worth a combined total of $30 million (Sh3 billion).

“None of the companies that reportedly failed to deliver supplies faced sanctions or government repayments. Government officials involved in the programme have also avoided consequences,” said the Sentry.

British tycoon David Greenhalgh, who built a fortune through his aviation consulting firm, is also accused in the report of being complicit in the loss of $65 million (Sh6.5 billion) from the treasury of South Sudan.

CHILD SOLDIERS

The first transfer reportedly occurred on December 15, 2009, when pre-independence Southern Sudan’s Ministry of Finance paid $65 million to Uganda-registered Cascade Construction as payment for a mobile system for aviation management and monitoring central unit, complete with radar and other equipment.

The funds reportedly paid to Cascade — and then to Airservices — apparently changed hands numerous times, passing through banks in several foreign jurisdictions before millions were used to purchase property and vehicles outside Southern Sudan.

“Funds originating from the deal reportedly transited through bank accounts held by Greenhalgh’s companies in multiple jurisdictions and were eventually flagged as suspicious and frozen,” said the dossier.

In addition, a pair of British businessmen — Abdelkarim Adam Eisa Mohamed and Dawd Adam Rife Abute — are also accused of entering into partnership with Lieutenant General David Yau Yau who stands accused of recruiting child soldiers.

24 WOMEN

In early 2015, the duo, together with Gen Yau Yau formed the National Depot Petroleum Development, an oil services company. Mohamed and Rife are also the largest shareholders in National Credit Bank, whose opening in South Sudan in May 2013 was graced by the former IMF managing director Dominique StraussKahn.

“An African Union Commission of Inquiry into abuses committed during South Sudan’s civil war reported that it heard eyewitness account of the killing of 24 women praying in a church and accusations of killings following an attack by a group associated with David Yau Yau,” said the report.