KAMPALA-The US Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Ms Sigal Mandelker has urged Uganda and Kenya to stop South Sudan political leaders from buying property using corruption proceeds.
Ms Mandelker, who is on a tour in Africa said on Monday during a press conference at the American embassy in Kampala that the regional governments especially Uganda and Kenya should sophisticate their financial systems to detect and disrupt illicit financial flows from South Sudan.
“When it comes to South Sudan, Uganda is particularly important to us for obvious reasons. We also know that much of the open source reporting indicates that South Sudanese elites are hiding assets and buying property in Uganda. So our message to the government counterparts is that we want to work with you to stop the illicit financing,” she said.
Ms Mandelker also said that regional governments are obligated to implement UN sanctions on South Sudan officials who were put on sanctions last year.
Ms Mandelker urged Uganda to “send a message that kind of money is not welcome here”.
She said the U.S. government will continue to “impose consequences” on the South Sudan politicians involved in corruption to end the ongoing conflict.
“I want to be very clear on this point; those who profit from human rights violations and corruption, playing on the poor and the innocent must heed our warning. We will impose consequences,” she said.
It was her first stop on the African trip where she is visiting Kenya and DR Congo. It is the first time for an American in that position to visit sub Saharan Africa.
“Very high on our agenda [Treasury Department] is human rights and corruption and of course terrorism and the importance of countries having strong counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering controls,” she said.
The US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network under the Treasury Department has issued an advisory to alert US financial institutions about the possibility that certain South Sudanese political leaders may use American financial institutions to hide proceeds from public corruption.
“It also highlights persons who have been subject to sanctions because of their actions threatening the peace, security, or stability of South Sudan,” the statement said.
The US government says senior government and opposition political leaders are profiteering from corruption, which they say has increased since the beginning of the war in 2013.