Clooney calls for global action as he unveils South Sudan corruption report

US actor George Clooney takes part in a press conference in central London after presenting a report on atrocities in South Sudan. (AFP)
Updated 19 September 2019

Clooney calls for global action as he unveils South Sudan corruption report

  • Clooney called on the US and EU to target those involved and their networks with tougher sanctions as his Africa-focused investigative project The Sentry released its latest findings
  • The report accuses Dar Petroleum Corp, the largest multinational oil consortium in South Sudan — led by a Chinese state-owned oil company — of providing support to deadly militias

LONDON: Hollywood star George Clooney on Thursday urged the international community to “step up” as he unveiled a report alleging links between global corporations, tycoons and governments and rampant corruption in South Sudan which has extracted billions of dollars in profits.
Clooney called on the United States and European Union to target those involved and their networks with new and tougher sanctions as his Africa-focused investigative project The Sentry released its latest findings on webs of corruption in the country.
“I believe they should do much more,” he told a news conference in London with his prominent human rights lawyer wife Amal Clooney seated in the front row.
“I don’t know if they can stop it but they can sure make it a lot harder,” said Clooney, a longtime campaigner for human rights in the region, best known for his advocacy in Sudan’s western region of Darfur.
The actor and activist co-founded The Sentry in 2015 with former US official John Prendergast.
Its 64-page report — “The Taking of South Sudan” — accuses multinational corporations and individuals of being “war profiteers” complicit with South Sudanese politicians and military officials in “ravaging the world’s newest nation.”
“Nearly every instance of confirmed or alleged corruption or financial crime in South Sudan examined by The Sentry has involved links to an international corporation, a multinational bank, a foreign government or high-end real estate abroad,” it stated.
Clooney said the profiteers include “Chinese and Malaysian oil giants, British tycoons, and American businessmen.”
“Without their support these atrocities could never have happened at this scale,” he added.
The report accuses Dar Petroleum Corp, the largest multinational oil consortium in South Sudan — led by a Chinese state-owned oil company — of providing “direct support to deadly militias.”
Meanwhile Chinese investors formed a company with South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s daughter and acquired several mining licenses in the country just weeks before the military reportedly drove thousands of people from the land where they held a permit, the research claims.
AFP sought comment from the consortium and the government, but they declined to comment, noting they had not read the report.
The probe also alleged an American arms trafficker tried to sell a trove of weapons to a South Sudanese warlord, and two British citizens formed an oil company with a warlord accused of forcibly recruiting thousands of child soldiers.
It said a $65 million scandal involving a South Sudanese general and a British tycoon illustrated “the impunity enjoyed by kleptocrats and their international collaborators.”
The Sentry is composed of financial investigators, international human rights lawyers, and regional experts as well as former law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, policymakers, investigative journalists and banking professionals.
It has previously reported on corruption and human rights abuses by South Sudan’s civilian and military leaders, but Clooney said its new strategy was to “follow the money.”
“If you can’t shame them (officials), then you can shame the people who do business with them,” he told reporters.
“You can make it difficult for certain financial institutions to look the other way.
“That can be an effective tool — a much more effective tool than trying to shame a warlord.”


Belgian court to give verdict in Iran diplomat case on January 22

Updated 04 December 2020

Belgian court to give verdict in Iran diplomat case on January 22

  • Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old diplomat formerly based in Vienna, faces 20 years in prison if convicted
  • Assadi denies any involvement in the plot, which was foiled by security services

BRUSSELS: A Belgian court will deliver its verdict on Jan. 22 in the trial of an Iranian diplomat accused of plotting to bomb an exiled opposition group’s rally, his lawyer told AFP.
Assadollah Assadi, a 48-year-old diplomat formerly based in Vienna, faces 20 years in prison if convicted of plotting to target the rally in Villepinte, outside Paris, on June 30, 2018.
The rally included the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (MEK), which Tehran considers a “terrorist group” and has banned since 1981.
Assadi denies any involvement in the plot, which was foiled by security services, and has refused to appear at Antwerp Criminal Court, where he is on trial with three alleged accomplices.
On Thursday, the second and last day of the hearing, the three maintained their innocence.
Lawyers for Nasimeh Naami and Amir Saadouni — a Belgian-Iranian couple arrested in possession of a bomb in their car on their way to France — claimed the explosive was not powerful enough to kill.
The lawyer for the third alleged accomplice, Mehrdad Arefani, described by the prosecution as a relative of Assadi, has refuted his involvement and also pleaded for his acquittal.
Prosecutors are seeking an 18-year jail term for the couple and 15 for Arefani.
The target of the alleged bomb plot was a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled opposition movement, outside Paris which was attended by several allies of US President Donald Trump, including former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Naami and Saadouni were arrested in Brussels the same day while, separately, German police on July 1 arrested Assadi, who allegedly handed the couple the explosives at a June meeting in Luxembourg.
Through his lawyer Dimitri de Beco, Assadi again protested that he should not have been deprived of his diplomatic immunity.
The verdict will be delivered at 1:00 p.m. (1200 GMT) on January 22.
The case has caused tensions between Iran and several European countries and shone an uncomfortable light on Tehran’s international activities.
In October 2018, France accused Iran’s ministry of intelligence of being behind the alleged attack.
Tehran has strongly denied the charges.