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Kenya opposes call to seize property of S. Sudan leaders

June 17, 2018 (NAIROBI) - Kenya has opposed calls from the United States to seize properties of South Sudanese leaders, allegedly acquired using proceeds from corruption, money laundering and the ongoing war.

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US Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Ms Sigal Mandelker (Daily Monitor)

Last week, the US Treasury’s under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker said some South Sudanese, have continued to invest illicit money in Kenya’s real estate market.

"I wanna be very clear, those who profit from human rights violations and corruption, preying on the poor and innocent and mothers and children, must heed our warning," she told reporters in Nairobi.

"We will impose consequences, we will cut off your access to the US financial system and we will work with our partners in this region and elsewhere to do the same," added the senior US official, who visited Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

However, responding to calls from Mandelker, Kenya’s ministry of foreign affairs officials pledged to share intelligence with Washington on illicit money flows from South Sudan, but insist that reports provided by the US on the South Sudanese leaders need verification.

The principal secretary in foreign affairs ministry, Macharia Kamau said Kenya is capable of seizing properties from illicit proceeds but will only act within the context of international practices through the United Nations conventions and the Bretton Woods institutions.

“Kenya knows its obligations in regards to corruption and money laundering, and is working closely with the international community on the same. However, we work with multilateral platforms and don’t take instructions from other sovereign states,” he told the East African.

In September 2016, The Sentry, a US-based investigative group, accused South Sudanese leaders of transferring millions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth outside the country during a civil war that left nearly half the population homeless or in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

Its report accused President Salva Kiir and some of his top associates, along with former vice-president Riek Machar, as having invested millions of dollars in real estate in Kenya, Uganda as well as Australia.

The senior US official told reporters in Nairobi on Wednesday that she met with top officials in Kenya’s government and the banking sector to urge them to watch out for money laundering from South Sudan.

The Treasury under-secretary urged officials in Nairobi and Kampala to close loopholes that allow transfer of illicit funds from South Sudan.