US, Kenya and Uganda Plans to Seize South Sudanese Real Estate Bought From Proceeds of Corruption In East Africa

Washington,

Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes(Photo Credit: Senator Jack Reed/Youtube/Nyamilepedia)

Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes(Photo Credit: Senator Jack Reed/Youtube/Nyamilepedia)

June 13, 2018(Nyamilepedia) – the US Treasury Undersecretary Mandelker, who met with officials and banks in Nairobi, Kenya, yesterday urges Kenyan, Ugandan, and US. authorities to investigate and seize proceeds of corruption from South Sudan’s war that are sheltered in real estate throughout East Africa.

Nearly two years ago, an investigation by The Sentry identified properties in Nairobi and Kampala in the possession of South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, former Vice-President Riek Machar, and other current and former senior officials.

Kenya and Uganda have the legal authority and means to locate, investigate, and — if warranted — seize these properties.

John Prendergast, a Co-Founder of the Sentry Project, said: “New financial pressures would disrupt the lifestyle of any South Sudanese officials found to have engaged in corruption, as well as that of their families, to bend these officials’ personal incentives toward peace and an end to the devastating war. We hope Under Secretary Mandelker’s engagement with Kenyan authorities and banks will spark official inquiries into real estate purchased by South Sudanese officials potentially to hide unexplained wealth obtained in the context of war. Investigating, and if appropriate, seizing these homes would provide tremendous leverage for the peace process, and would be a critical step toward accountability for the systematic looting and mass atrocities committed since the country’s independence in 2011.”

The Sentry appealed to Kenyan and Ugandan authorities to pursue immediate action to reverse the apparent real estate trend.

Mandelker said Kenyan and Ugandan authorities could open investigations into the identified properties and work with US law enforcement to coordinate joint cases.

Because Kenya, Uganda and the United States are signatories to the UN Convention against Corruption, the legal framework allows for the United States to file asset seizure warrants abroad if it were determined that a property is eligible to be seized. 

United State law enforcement could launch independent investigations to determine if properties in Kenya and Uganda were bought in US dollars with proceeds of corruption.

Sentry argues that based on documents viewed by their investigators, some real estates were likely bought with US dollars. 

As part of an investigation, an inter-agency team led by the US Department of Justice could travel to the region to partner with local law enforcement.

He appealed to United States Treasury Department to declare the purchase of real estate outside South Sudan by governments connected elites to be a primary money-laundering concern. 

The Treasury Department could further refine this action by specifying a range of values of property that are particularly of concern for properties whose value exceeds $300,000.

 By issuing a public finding on the damaging trend of South Sudanese officials buying real estate that in some cases may be used to hide illicit funds, financial institutions would need to take special measures to address the financial abuse.

This would be a specific step to build on the Treasury Department Adversary issued on June 12, 2018 highlighting the ways the real estate sector serves as a vehicle for corruption by Politically Exposed Persons.

Read The Sentry’s new brief “East Africa’s Leverage for Peace: Target Real Estate in Kenya and Uganda Connected to South Sudan’s Spoilers:” https://eno.ug/2LLb9B1

Read The Sentry’s original report: “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay:” https://eno.ug/sentrywcsp

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