South Sudan: Court unfreezes Lomuro’s bank account
A freeze order on a bank account belonging to a South Sudanese minister has been removed by a court.
According to the report seen by NCMP, the injunction was removed when a sufficient explanation for the Sh13 million in Martin Elia Lomuro’s account was provided.
The money was not the profits of crime, as was originally assumed, but rather part of his salary and part of the rental revenue from his South Sudan home.
Lomuro is the South Sudanese government’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs.
The freezing order was removed by anti-corruption court judge Cecilia Githua, who also ordered that Lomuro be allowed to use his bank account at the Cooperative Bank of Kenya.
“The applicant (Assets Recovery Agency) is pleased with the respondent’s (Martin Elia Lomuro) explanation of the source of money. The court decided that “the applications dated June 2, 2021, and July 6, 2021, are compromised, and the order granted on June 4, 2021, is rescinded.”
The freezing order was issued in response to an appeal by the Assets Recovery Agency, which said it suspected the minister of money laundering.
On suspicion of money laundering operations in several countries, including the United Kingdom, ARA filed a court petition to have the account blocked.
The agency stated that there were currency transactions whose origin could not be legally explained.
The agency requested freeze orders, claiming that the minister could dispose of or transfer the funds, necessitating preservation.
However, the minister quickly filed a lawsuit under a certificate of urgency, claiming that he is immune from civil or criminal jurisdiction due to his diplomatic immunity.
He further said that the money in issue was not the profits of criminality, but rather legal transfers from his Juba bank accounts.
Part of the money goes for his pay, allowances, and emoluments as a minister and member of South Sudan’s National Legislative Assembly.
Another part of the funds came from the rental revenue he received from his homes in South Sudan.
Lomuro said that the court decision freezing his account had harmed his image since stories in the media painted him as a criminal and money launderer.
“The entire Republic of South Sudan has been tarnished and thrown in jail because its most senior minister, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, who is well known and respected in the country, the East African community, the African Union, and the entire international community, is a money launderer,” Lomuro said.
The freezing order hampered him since he couldn’t transfer money to his wife Rejah, who has a heart problem and needs frequent hospital visits.
In addition, he was unable to transfer money to his family in Kenya for their maintenance and rent.