U.S. NGO questions Sentry Report On Crude Dealings In South Sudan
By Samuel Ouma
The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) has questioned a report published on February 21 by the investigative group The Sentry, which accuses South Sudan’s top government officials, Trinity Energy Limited and Afreximbank, of corruption.
The report titled “Crude Dealings: How Oil-Backed Loans Raise Red Flags for Illegal Activity in South Sudan” focused on a 2018 deal in which South Sudan’s Trinity Energy Limited entered into a trade finance facility with Cairo-based African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) for a series of $30 million loans to purchase diesel and gasoline to sell to the South Sudan market.
According to the report, as a condition of the agreement, the South Sudanese government promised to grant Trinity Energy crude oil cargoes, noting that the deal skirted legislation on oversight, transparency, and competition and facilitated off-book government spending.
In a statement dated February 25, 2022, NYCFPA said the report is questionable, misleading and unfair on many levels and is extremely counterproductive towards the growth of South Sudan.
The institute questioned the validity of the report’s findings, saying it was based on old and inaccurate information. It noted that inaccurate data can lead to incorrect conclusions being drawn, which can have significant implications for policy decisions and investments.
“Given the challenges that South Sudan continues to address, we believe it is crucial that any report assessing the progress of the business community and government is based on current and reliable data. Without up-to-date and accurate information, it is difficult to know whether progress is being made or not, which can impede efforts to improve the economy and foster growth,” stated NYCFPA.
NYCFPA also questioned the credibility of the primary data sources included in the report. It noted it was wrong for the Sentry to rely on information from an individual facing money laundering and fraud accusations in numerous jurisdictions.
“We believe that a source under investigation for these serious allegations has already demonstrated a willingness to engage in unethical and illegal activities, which calls into question the accuracy and trustworthiness of any information they provide,” NYCFPA said.
“In fact, it is entirely possible that they are using their position to manipulate the information they present in order to further their own interests.”
NYCFPA observed that The Sentry would have sought for more reputable sources of information and would have been wary of taking material from sources with such major ethical and legal difficulties.
Therefore, NYCFPA urged U.S. policymakers to be very cautious in drawing conclusions and taking action that will be counterproductive to the future of the region.
“Decisions made based on misleading information could be perceived as ill motivated by African partners and therefore contribute to widening our differences at the time we need to build stronger partnerships in the region…not weaken them,” the statement read further.
The report from the Sentry came at a time of renewed optimism in South Sudan following the recent high-profile visit of Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the Church of Scotland Lord High Commissioner Iain Greenshields. The visit of the eminent global figures to South Sudan was a powerful demonstration of the transformative power of peace. As a young nation grappling with the aftermath of civil war, South Sudan is in dire need of healing and reconciliation. The joint “pilgrimage of peace” by the religious leaders was a clear sign of hope for the people of South Sudan and a reminder of the role that faith can play in promoting peace.
Also the First lady Jill Biden is currently concluding her trip to Africa as part of US effort to solidify their diplomatic ties with the continent. Releasing such report questioning Afrexim Bank integrity and oversight, the financial institution supporting the very popular Continental Free Trade Agreement may be damaging to US – Africa relationship with the continent.
The run of good news continued when South Sudan on February 24, 2023, became the first team in African basketball history to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in their first attempt. South Sudan beat Senegal 83-75 and become the second African team – after Cote d’Ivoire – to qualify for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup to be held in Indonesia, Japan and Philippines.
The South Sudanese people need international support from the west not the old paternalist approach of international NGO.;