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South Sudan’s Minister of Justice instructed to prosecute corrupt officials

July 8, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s cabinet has directed the minister of Justice, John Luk Jok, to prosecute the culprits involved in the grain scandal which resulted in the loss of billions of dollars in the last three years.

South Sudanese celebrating into the night South Sudan’s first anniversary of it’s Independence day July 9, 2012 in Juba (Getty)

This was revealed on Saturday by the country’s vice president, Riek Machar Teny, while explaining the latest drive to stamp out corruption and punish the perpetrators during the signing ceremony of a framework agreement on development plans between the government and UN agencies operating in South Sudan.

Machar said the latest measures came in the wake of the report presented to the government last week by an international agency which conducted thorough investigations into the fate of the contracts made in the grain project.

In 2008 the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, in anticipation of a shortage of food, initiated a huge project of purchasing and delivering grain throughout the country, to be stored or sold in the local markets at a subsidized price.

Companies, some of which were “paper companies” were contracted to purchase and deliver the grain to the states.

The report of the investigations which were carried out by the World Bank-sponsored Star Agency revealed that many contracts which were made by officials and business people with the Ministry of Finance did not see the grain reaching its designated recipients.

Machar said a resolution was passed by the cabinet instructing the Justice Minister to prosecute the culprits.

Machar also revealed that his government has asked the World Bank to review and investigate all the other non-grain contracts which the government entered into since 2006. He said any faults found in such contracts for the last six years will be investigated and the culprits prosecuted.

He added that the government was finding ways to handle the issue involving more than 75 former and current officials and that president Salva Kiir has written to them, as prime suspects responsible for the loss of US$4 billion.

He said the national parliament had passed a resolution directing the executive to suspend any government official whose name appears on the list of suspects and that the executive was studying how to respond.

Machar put the revenue lost to corruption figure in perspective by claiming that the total amount of oil revenue Juba received from Khartoum for the last six years was US$11.5 billion.

He acknowledged that the credibility of his government was on the line due to corruption and called for investigations into all the contracts in order expose the truth.

Two other sources of corruption in South Sudan besides contracts, he further explained, are in tax collection and land operations and management.