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South Sudan finance minister dismisses corruption allegations

June 19, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese finance minister, David Deng Athorbei, has described financial allegations labeled against him as ‘baseless” and threatened to pursue legal measures against those he claimed were spreading “false lies.”

South Sudan’s minister of finance and economic planning David Deng Athorbei speaks to the press on 23 August 2010 (Photo AFP)

The minister said he has read the stories of the allegations in the media, but denied having been involved in corruption to steal public money.

“Yes, I have read in the news unfounded allegations about me and my family, and I decided to ignore them because they are baseless. This is the work of people with political motives,” finance minister David Deng Athorbei told Sudan Tribune when reached on Sunday to comment on the allegations that he has several accounts at Kenyan Equity Bank which he uses for money laundering by taking public money outside the country in the names of two foreign firms.

Athorbei said he has asked legal opinion from his lawyer and to study the motives behind the allegations.

“I did not want to speak to the media about this. I asked the legal opinion of my lawyer but of course it is my right and the family to pursue these allegations through legal measures. This is no longer about politics. It is about my integrity and the privacy of my family,” he angrily responded to Sudan Tribune.

The minister was reacting to allegations published by The Indian Ocean Newsletter (ION) which reported that “strong suspicions hang over the integrity” of David Deng Athorbei and his son, Apar Athorbei, over corrupt practices they have involved in.

According to a 17 June report by ION, Athorbei has several accounts at the Kenyan Equity Bank and uses the accounts of the firms such as Riuwa Logistics Limited and Eat Right Limited to take funds outside South Sudan.

The report added that Emmanuel Makuach Ayuel, a consultant for Bank of South Sudan and brother-in-law of President Salva Kiir’s envoy, Nhial Deng Nhial, is reportedly in the money laundering business with David Deng Athorbei.

He [Ayuel] regularly receives deposits in his account of over $200,000 from the British firm De La Rue International Limited which prints the South Sudanese banknotes, according to the newsletter.

The international news outlet claimed it has received documents as evidence substantiating the allegations of financial transactions involving the two officials in business since Athorbei’s appointment as finance minister.