Breaking News: Corruption in the office of the President, Sixteen sentenced to life in prison

The High Court has sentenced to life in prison, the sixteen individuals convicted of playing a role in the loss of more than 14 million US dollars from the Office of the President.

June 13, 2016

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South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir prepares to give his speech during the India Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 (Photo AP/Bernat Armangue)

On February 24, 2016, a news break that spme Senior aides of the South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, have been charged in court for using their positions to steal 14 million United States (US) dollars and another amount of 30 million South Sudanese pounds (SSP), according to a state attorney charge sheet read in high court on Tuesday in Juba.

Deng Achuil, a senior legal counsel and the government prosecutor, said the top suspects, Yel Luol Kur – the former chief executive director and Mayen Wol Jong, the ex-chief administrator in the office of President Kiir, signed documents authorizing payment of millions of dollars and SSP by central bank without the president’s knowledge.

The men were accused and suspended on charges related to forging signature of President Kiir.

‘‘The accused [persons] abused their power and misuse their positions and violated financial rules and regulations by committing breach of trust,” said Achuil, reading from a charge sheet before high court judges in Juba on Tuesday.

“The prosecutor also proved to honorable court that the above financial documents have been endorsed and signed by the accused, Yel, the executive director in the Office of the President, with the consent of the accused, Mayen, the Chief Administer in the same office,” he further said.

According to the prosecutor, the repeated fraudulence led to the stealing of over 14 million US dollars in the name of the president.

Another amount of 30 million South Sudanese pounds (SSP), roughly equivalent to 8 million US dollars of the official exchange rate at the time, was also stolen in the name of President Kiir with the knowledge of the lead suspects, Yel and Mayen, helped by 14 other officials from the Office of the President, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

“Furthermore the prosecutor will also call the witnesses who will testify that the directive and signatures found in the financial forms have been audited by the auditors were used by the accused Yel,” the prosecutor said.

The suspects were detained last year and spent at least eight months in detention. They were arraigned before court on Monday. The case was adjourned for Wednesday but delayed for Thursday to give the suspects an opportunity to meet their defence lawyers.

It was not the first time the two senior officials were implicated in the theft in the Office of the President. Yel and Mayen, who also hail from President Kiir’s home state of Warrap, were also suspended a year before due to earlier loss of millions of dollars and South Sudanese pounds alleged to have been stolen from a mouse hole where the money was kept in the President’s office.

President Kiir suspended them in a publicly announced presidential order at the time after exposure of the ordeal but later on reinstated them into their positions quietly in his office after few weeks.

It was not clear why the serial embezzlement of money using the president’s signature went unnoticed by top executives in the offices of the president, central bank and finance ministry for a long time.

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