Benjamin Bol Mel is president of ABMC Thai-South Sudan Construction Company and chairman of the South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
Radio Tamazuj reported on 16 June that South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has a substantial beneficial interest in ABMC. Some sources within the company stated that Kiir is a majority shareholder while others confirmed that ABMC operates an agricultural project for him on his private farm at Luri.
In this fifth report of an investigative series, Radio Tamazuj profiles Benjamin Bol Mel:
Benjamin Bol belongs to the Dinka tribe, the same tribe as President Salva Kiir, but he does not come from the same family or clan. He hails from Abiem, Aweil East County, Northern Bahr al Ghazal.
Bol is a graduate of the United States International University in Nairobi where he studied business administration. One of his colleagues at university was Deng Deng Akoon, who was to become executive director in the office of Vice President Riek Machar.
In 2006, Bol served on the LRA peace secretariat led by Machar, who is now head of the SPLA-IO rebel group. In spite of this early political association with Machar, Bol later developed a relationship with President Salva Kiir and he has remained on Kiir’s side throughout the current civil war.
Early in his career Benjamin Bol worked for the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and at the Alok Group of Companies. He served as manager of Home & Away Ltd., a conference facility and popular Thai restaurant located in the Amarat neighborhood of Juba, which was connected to Alok Group.
In a short period of time Bol rose from junior positions at the UN and Alok Group to become president of a multi-million dollar company and chairman of the national commerce chamber.
Bol has traveled to Thailand and he was reportedly instrumental in making contacts with Thai businessmen for the formation of a joint venture company, which became ABMC.
He is currently president of ABMC and he has also been described as its ‘owner’. It is unclear how he obtained the capital for investment in ABMC to become the purported owner of the company.
Bol also serves as deputy chairman of the board of Buffalo Commercial Bank.