DENG MARQUS -JUBA -South Sudan Finance Minister, Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, depletes the Central Bank of its reserves, bankrupting the institution by over 50 million dollars allocated for public auction to local forex bureaus and banks. The auction would have helped inject hard currency into the economy. But this level of financial fraud is nothing new in South Sudan.
In a past report by the Sentry (thesentry.org), ‘’Some PEPs (Politically Exposed Persons) exploit their control of local banks to divert state funds for their own benefit. For instance, in 2016, the central bank auctioned off $56 million to South Sudanese commercial banks by drawing on IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).45 The IMF intended to offset the devaluation of the SSP, but instead, the auction served as an infusion of cash that flowed to PEP-connected bank.’’
The finance minister siphoned off the funds and utilized the money to cater for his lobbying such that he could be re-appointed into the position- and he succeeded greatly in that regard. The Minister ‘’borrowed’’ the money on the guise that it’d be paid back to the central bank after an unspecified period, a practice that is both corrupt and unethical.
It has been a fortnight since the last public auction was done by the central bank. The dollar rate has since risen against the south Sudanese pounds after the local currency had shown promising signs of strengthening earlier on at the beginning of March.
Salvatore Garang Mabiordit depletes the Central Bank of its reserves, bankrupting the institution by over 50 million dollars that was allocated for public auction to local forex bureaus and banks.
“The Finance Minister borrowed the money from the Central Bank governor claiming that the money would be paid back in installments, the time frame not known”, said an insider at the central bank, “the money was used to facilitate the lobbying processes of the Minister to bribe committee members tasked with putting names forward for the president’s approval in the R-TGONU”, he added.
The government, towards the end of 2019, initiated a weekly allocation of over 2M dollars to local forex and banks to help keep the economy afloat by enhancing currency exchange and local trading. It showed signs of improvement, but since the allocation stopped two weeks ago, the dollar is threatening to inflate further, with the real prospect of the South Sudanese economy falling further into the abyss.
This saga further underlines how institutionalized the high level of corruption is in South Sudan. There is no hope that this blatant and unchecked corruption will cease considering how weak public institutions are in the country. Two days ago, the Chief Justice of the country, Chan Reec Madut, was caught up in a separate scandal at the Juba International Airport when he interfered in the work of health officials demanded that his four sons who landed aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight from the UK be tested for COVID-19, leading to an embarrassing scuffle and shirt-fronting.