Graft: S Sudan ex-ministers face trial
05 September 2013, 16:10
Juba - Investigators recommended on Thursday that two
powerful South Sudanese ex-ministers face trial for a multi-million dollar
corruption scandal, the first time the graft-riddled nation would hold such
senior figures to account.
Billions of dollars of lucrative oil revenues have been
systematically stolen from South Sudan, the government says, blocking efforts
by the grossly underdeveloped young nation to rebuild after decades of war.
Former cabinet affairs minister Deng Alor and ex-finance
minister Kosti Manibe were suspended in June after being fingered in the
alleged theft of $8m from government coffers.
Investigators said the money was "un-procedurally
transferred" to a bank in Kenya allegedly to buy 62 fire-resistant safes,
none of which ever arrived.
The safes would have cost a staggering $128 000 each.
"The finding... is for criminal proceedings,"
government investigation team leader John Gatwech told AFP. "It is now up
to the president to take people to the court."
However, all the money has since been returned, added
Gatwech, who is also South Sudan's anti-corruption commission chief.
When South Sudan won its freedom in July 2011 it had some of
the worst development indicators of any nation on earth.
President Salva Kiir has publicly tried to investigate top
officials and claw back stolen cash.
Last year he wrote to 75 past and present officials
demanding they return $4bn of public money they were accused of stealing.
Letters were also sent to heads of states in regional
nations as well as in Europe, the Middle East and the United States asking for
help in recovering the cash.
Alor, from the flashpoint Abyei region claimed both by Sudan
and South Sudan, is from the powerful Dinka Ngok ethnic group and served
alongside Kiir when he was still a rebel leader.
Alor also served as foreign minister of a united Sudan
before the South broke away from the North and was one of the most senior
figures in government.
Manibe hails from the Zande group in Western Equatoria.