Arthur Akuien Chol: My Conscience is Clear and Clean!!
The disgraced ex-minister of Finance in the defunct government of South Sudan (GoSS), Mr. Arthur Akuien Chol, who was fired over corruption allegations in 2007 has come out fighting denying corruption allegations leveled against himself. As reported by the Citizen Newspaper, Mr. Chol has instead leveled “strong accusations against the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum of receiving 30 Million US dollars from him in his personal account in 2006 and further alleged that the Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny instructed him the same year to purchase vehicles for the Government of Southern Sudan GOSS from Cardinal Company whose price was twice the actual amount.”
Mr. Chol was fired and arrested in 2007 over an allegation that he pocketed $30-60 million. But he was freed immediately afterward when, allegedly, heavily armed “boys from his clan” broke into the government prison and took away Mr. Chol daring anyone to follow them. In one of the recorded corruption incidences, the government was reported to have paid over $400, 000 per a vehicle. The former finance minister has remained free ever since, no investigation or further arrest has been carried out.
The surprising resurfacing of Mr. Chol, after years out of the limelight, could be attributed to a recent report released by South Sudan Auditor General, Mr. Stephen Wondu, that concluded “that millions of money was swindled in the year 2005-2006 alone.” The report recommend the persecution of all people link to the malpractices of the time. Mr. Chol was not only the finance minister responsible for the purse, he has already been implicated in those corruptions.
It remain to be seen if his vehement denial and attempt to drag in SPLM SG Pagan Amum, and South Sudan VP, Dr. Machar, will have any effect on the phase, pace and eventual outcome of the recommended persecution of the culprits. Is South Sudan judiciary independent, strong and prepared enough , willing and ready, to persecute SG Pagan and VP Dr. Machar in addition to Mr. Chol should there be substantial evidence to go ahead with the investigation and persecution? Only time will tell
Press Release from Hon. Arthur Akuien Chol, South Sudan Former Finance Minister Fired For Corruption.
On behalf of the South Sudanese citizens, the leadership of South Sudan, and on my own behalf, I wish to take this opportunity to thank all the sons and daughters of this new born nation, and congratulate them all for a job well done in ensuring our independence as a new nation. I would also extend my warm appreciation to the leadership of our president, Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit for leading us through the hardships and delivering us to our newcountry. My appearance today before you all is in the sole interest of all citizens of this country, the Republic of South Sudan towhom I remain loyal.
As you all know, I was the first minister of Finance and Economic Planning for the Government of South Sudan, a position I held through the era of struggle, upuntil 2007, when I was removed from office, due to false allegations ofcorruption that were made against me. Today marks my first public appearance inreference to this matter, as I have never spoken out since my removal fromoffice. The reason why I have never publicly stood up and countered theallegations, was for reasons of patriotism. I did not want to spoil the process that was leading us, as the peopleknown as the “Southern Sudanese”, to the independence of South Sudan, and thesubsequent declaration of the Republic of South Sudanas a united nation.
I was accused recently in the newspapers, and by some Parliamentarians of not going to Parliament to answer questions about the irregularities in the 2006 report produced by the Auditor General. Thereason why I was not present at that meeting was because I was told that my presence was not required, as I had already written and submitted a report tothe Public Accounts Committee.
As I have noted, there have been constant attempts being made by some few individuals within the current governing body to discredit and defame me as a significant figure amongst the founding members of this nation. These accusations all range from my time in office after the signing of the CPA and the formation of theGovernment of National Unity, and continue to this date.
It is unfortunate that I have now been pushed to the point where it is necessary forme to stand up and take this opportunity to list out some, if only a few, ofthe transgressions made by a few against the Public interest of the People of South Sudan, for, as I mentioned earlier, time and circumstance had now allowed me to speak out, and let the whole country know how public funds were, and arebeing mishandled and misused.
1. In 2006, I was accused of misusingand stealing public funds. This was propagated by some few individuals within the government that led to a caucus sitting of the Sudan People’s LiberationMovement (SPLM) as an intervention. The latter, in response to this matter,resolved with their own clear findingsm that transparency and accountabilityhad existed within what was then, my Ministry.
In my own opinion, this was the beginning of my downfall. The government of theperiod of 2005-06, had a great influx of cash, and I being the Minister ofFinance at that time, had strict operative values, that could not allow public money to be rotating anyhow amongst corrupt individuals. This was the beginning of my accusations, by a manipulation of opinion, both Government and Public, and used as a way for me to be removed from office, in order to allow a certain few unscrupulous and corrupt individuals within the governing system, easy access to public money, without the fear of question by me.
2. In the same year of 2006, I was again accused on matters regarding a grant of $ 60, 000, 000 (Sixty million US dollars) given to GOSS/SPLM by the president of Sudan, Omar el Bashir. These accusations were made by the SPLM Secretary General, Pagan Amum, and Luka Biong, the treasurer of the SPLM, stating that I had stolen the above figures but clearly, this amount was paid to the account of GOSS in the Bank of Sudan with Issac Makur and Silvano Jal Malith assignatories to the account. My involvement in this could be in reference to the approvals I made, having been given instructions from above, which led to the expenditure of $30, 000,000, of which I hold copies of the originals, of all documents of the above expenditures, and can fully account for them. The other $30,000,000 was placed in the hands of SPLM SG, Pagan Amum, as it was paid by the Ministry of Finance directly into his account as once again I had been instructed from above. That transfer was done on 22 December 2006 and I believe that he, Pagan Amum is the one who should account, and he can clearly tell the public how he spent those funds,as I am not accountable for his expenditures.
3. Leading to my removal as the Minister of Finance, Iwas accused of purchasing vehicles from the Cardinal Company at a price twice the actual amount. These vehicles were purchased following the written instructions from the Vice President of GOSS, Dr. Riak Machar Teny, that I should purchase the vehicles from Cardinal Company for various Ministries. In turn, I directed the undersecretary of Finance to proceed with the transaction,after involving the Procurement Department in accordance with the proper procurement procedures that were to be followed in my absence due to my visit to Malaysia and Singapore on official business for the Government of Southern Sudan.Despite all my precautions and procedures that I put in place to be followed, I was then held responsible for these purchases, while my directives to the undersecretary clearly indicated procurement procedures had to be followed inaccordance with the laid down procedures. As a result,
I was removed from my office and my duties as Minister of Finance were abruptly terminated, and immediately thereafter, I was accused and arrested for corruption. I was later investigated and tried, but there was no evidence of wrong doing, and the casewas dismissed by the province Judge Malek Mathiang in Jubaon the 30th September 2009
This has all led up to this, which I hope is the final accusation, and which is the driving factor of holding this press conference today, so that you, the members of the Press are fully briefed and can inform the public at large that there are more facts to this accusation that have never been spoken about or disclosed. These accusations have been directly made by an individual who has turned to the media to show grievances of his dismissal as the Governor of Bank of South Sudan.For instance, I was tasked by the Auditor General to explain why there was adiscrepancy of US$ 7 million between the amount transferred out to the accountin Geneva and the amount returned to the accountof GOSS in the Central Bank of Khartoum? I replied that the Central Bank of Khartoum should be the ones to account for that as theywere the agents of the transactions.
In conclusion, however, I do acknowledge and commend the Auditor General for having tabled the audit reports for the year 2005-2006 before the national assembly, however, I do not believe that there was sufficient attention given to the discovery of the true facts and I am of the opinion thatthe Auditor General should instruct his auditors to do a full audit and discovery on the National Bank, and I am sure if they do this in a diligent andprofessional manner, they will find the missing links, as they are there, but not yet discovered. In light of the current oil crisis, and the austerity measures proposed to be undertaken by the Government of South Sudan, I strongly recommend that proper investigations be carried out to determine actual truths to the matter at hand.
These false allegations that have been made against me, have caused me and my family to endure a great amount of personalsuffering, public suspicion and abuse, and is widely reported on the internet that I have stolen money from the Government of Southern Sudan. This is apersonal attack against my integrity, and indirectly reflects on the integrityof my family, who have suffered in silence, while protesting my innocence.
I let it be known, that for the sake of this Nation, and from the time I was appointed as the guardian of the Nations finances, I guarded them well, and I thank the late Dr John Garang Mabior and his Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit for having entrusted me with the guardianship of the Nations finances up to the CPA in 2005 and beyond, up to my removal from office in 2007.
I take this opportunity to inform you, the members of the Press, the people of South Sudan,and the International community, that I am not afraid of the Court, and will welcome a full and thorough investigation, conducted with full transparency,that will disclose the full facts and truth behind the discrepancies and missing funds, and I can assure you that I will once again be exonerated, but this time the true corrupt individuals will be exposed by a proper investigation of the facts.
This Nation must stand proud. We fought a war and won it. We had our referendumand won it 98% and won, and with that we won our Independence. We must now fight and win our financial war,both here at home and with Khartoum.
Corruption should not be condoned, and that is inaccordance with the wishes of his Excellency the President.
Thank you very much.
Hon. Arthur Akuien Chol
Ex-Minister Accuses Amum of Taking $30M, Named VP in Scandal
by Mary Ajith Goch & Misuk Moses ǀ
JUBA- Former Minister of Finance Arthur Akuien Chol levelled strong accusations against the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum of receiving 30 Million US dollars from him in his personal account in 2006 and further alleged that the Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny instructed him the same year to purchase vehicles for the Government of Southern Sudan GOSS from Cardinal Company whose price was twice the actual amount.
The Ex-Minister claimed that before he approved the money to be transferred to the SPLM Secretary General’s account he got instruction from what he described as “from above” without stating the name of the person to do so.
The matter was generated by recent discussion of the Audit Report of 2005-6 and the accusation against Chol by the Former Bank Governor Elijah Malok in the Parliament describing Chol as a “thief” at the end of last month, accusation which Chol brushed off.
Chol at a Press Conference in Home and Away yesterday explained that in 2006 a sum of 60, million US dollars was given to GOSS/SPLM by the then Sudan President Al Bashir and sent to GOSS Account and he (Chol) due to instruction “from above” approved $30Million for expenditure out of the 60 Million and he has documents to verify the expenses and then released the other half of $30 Million to Amum to account for it.
“I can account for the $30Million of which I hold the copies of documents because my involvement in this could be reference to the approvals I made having been instructed from above but the other $30, Million was placed in the hands of SPLM SG Pagan Amum as it was paid by the Ministry of Finance directly to his account as once again I had been instructed from above to transfer that amount and Pagan should account for this,” Chol claimed displaying to Reporters photocopies of the authorization letter and cheque issued.
This followed the allegations labelled against Chol that he was corrupt.
“It is unfortunate that I have been pushed to the point where it is necessary for me to stand up and take this opportunity to list out some, if only a few of the transgressions made by few against the public interest of the people of South Sudan,” Chol said in a press conference he organized to “clear” himself from Public about corruption allegations.
Returning to his removal his ministerial position in the Ministry of Finance, he said it was due to the allegations that he purchased the vehicles from the Cardinal Company in which it was not true that he conducted the process alone but that he was instructed by the Vice President to do so.
“I was accused of purchasing vehicles from Cardinal Company at a price twice the actual amount leading to my removal as the Minister of Finance. Well these vehicles were purchased following written instructions from the Vice President Riek Machar, that I should purchase the vehicles from the expensive Cardinal Company for various Ministries, in turn I directed the Undersecretary of Finance to proceed with the transactions and left for Malaysia and Singapore.
Following this I was removed from my Office and my duties were terminated as the Minister of Finance and immediately thereafter I was accused and arrested for corruption but letter I was investigated and tried and there was no evidence of wrong doing as the case was dismissed by Province Judge Malek Mathiang in Juba on 30th September 2009” he asserted
Chol said he acknowledge and commend the Auditor General’s report but challenge that the report was not sufficient to the discovery of the true facts and recommended the Auditor General to do a full audit on the national Bank. “Am sure if they do this in a diligent and professional manner, they will find missing links as they are there, but not yet discovered” he concluded
Efforts by the Citizen to get the Secretary’s General reaction and the Vice President to the allegation were unsuccessful. See the press release inside.
Ex-Finance Minister Denies Corruption Allegations
The South Sudanese Ex-Finance Minister Arthur Akuien Chol has appeared for the first time to speak in public since his dismissal in 2007; to deny all corruption allegations labeled against him and accused the SPLM Secretary General of embezzling $30Million US Dollars.
Ex South Sudan finance Minister Arthur Akuien while speaking to the press in Juba [©Gurtong]
By Waakhe Simon Wudu
JUBA, 10th February 2012 [Gurtong] – The South Sudanese Ex-Finance Minister Arthur Akuien Chol has appeared for the first time to speak in public since his dismissal in 2007; to deny all corruption allegations labeled against him and accused the SPLM Secretary General of embezzling $30Million US Dollars.
Akuien’s appearance came under pressure when the National Auditor General’s Financial Year reports for 2005/6 were last week referred to the National Ministry of Justice for prosecution of all civil servants found guilty of squandering public funds.
“I do not believe if sufficient attention was given to facts and I am of the opinion that the Auditor General should do a full audit on the National Bank, and I am sure if they do this in a diligent and professional manner, they will find the missing links,” Akuien told the press in a three page statement.
Akuien was appointed during the then Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS), in 2005 as the guardian of the Southern Sudan national treasury and instructed the usage of the government’s finances.
The Auditors’ report accused him of opening personal bank accounts abroad in countries like Geneva in the name of the government. The report also accused him of embezzling $7million US Dollars while his alleged accounts have been freezed by the Khartoum government.
Akuien was also alleged of purchasing government vehicles from a Cardinal Company at a price twice the actual amount. However, he told the press that, “these vehicles were purchased following written instructions from the Vice President of GOSS, Dr. Riek Machar Teny.”
He was also accused of embezzling over 6.2 billion Sudanese Pounds on government’s sorghum purchased to curb famine crisis in the country.
Akuien’s corruption allegations came to light when the former Governor of the Central Bank of South Sudan Elijah Malok exposed his secrets when summoned by the national assembly. He accused Akuien of diverting government funds into his foreign private bank accounts during his time in office.
However, during the press briefing yesterday at the Home and Away hotel in Juba, he declined of any involvement in all the alleged corruption malpractices. But rather accused the SPLM Secretary General Mr. Pagan Amum to be held accountable for the transfer of $30million US Dollars into his accounts, the money that was then released by the Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir.
If the Justice Minister took the legal steps on the referred Auditor’s report, Akuien will be one of the persons to stand in trial. However, he expressed his willingness to cooperate and to join the fight against corruption in the country.
“We must now fight and win our financial war, both here at home and with Khartoum. Corruption shouldn’t be condoned in accordance with the wishes of the President,” Akuien reiterated.
“I am not afraid of the Court and will welcome a full and thorough investigation, conducted with full transparency that will disclose the full facts and truth behind the discrepancies and missing funds.”
“And I can assure you that I will be exonerated – but this time round the true corrupt individuals will be exposed,” Akuien added.
Former Finance Minister Threatens to Expose Corruption in BOSS
The Former Finance Minister in the then government of Southern Sudan, Arthur Akuein Chol who is set to hold a press conference today to explain the missing money during his era and expose corruption by some of the government officials.
He will be speaking to the press today at Home and Away to explain the missing money to journalists.
As the issue of money said to have been misappropriated during the period 2005-6 raises public concern, Akuein will today give tips of how some of these money disappeared.
He is threatening to expose corruption that happened in former Bank of Southern Sudan and the exchange of money in Rumbek.
Akuein intends to expose to the media how money was used in the Bank of Southern Sudan and other corruption scandals.
The auditor general, Stephen Wondu had released a report that millions of money was swindled in the year 2005-2006 alone. The report evoked questions on the squandered money.
Following the report that led to the weeping of a member of parliament, Athur Akuein is today also set to unveil to the media what went wrong with the money during his era and expose corruption issues including the officials involved.
The South has been warned by countries against corruption and the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit has said that his government is moving towards zero tolerance to corruption.
After the auditors’ report, the public is keen in following up whether the perpetrators will be brought to books or not and watching with keen interest the work of the Anti- Corruption Commission which has started by declaration of assets program.
As we wait for the details from Akuein today, we are yet to see whether serious investigations will be taken into the matter.
South Sudan National Assembly Recommends Auditors’ Reports For Legal Action
The South Sudan National Assembly (SSNA) yesterday resolved that the Auditor General’s report for the fiscal financial year 2005/6 be submitted to the National Ministry of Justice so as to prosecute those found guilty of squandering the public funds.
The South Sudan National Assembly [File Photo]
By Waakhe Simon Wudu
JUBA, 31st January 2012 [Gurtong] – The South Sudan National Assembly (SSNA) yesterday resolved that the Auditor General’s report for the fiscal financial year 2005/6 be submitted to the National Ministry of Justice so as to prosecute those found guilty of squandering the public funds.
The recommendation follows several days of deliberations on the report after its presentation by the parliamentary committee of Public Accounts.
The parliamentarians were divided as to who should receive the report for legal actions. 6 MPs abstained from voting, 44 voted for the report to be referred to the Anti Corruption Commission after the former South Sudanese Minister of finance A. Akuien is investigated.
Former South Sudanese Central Bank Governor Elijah Malok told the House that, Akuein who was sacked in 2007 as finance minister by the President was responsible for the opening of some foreign accounts abroad in Geneva. Malok also disclosed that, Akuein was involved in diversion of public funds into his personal account.
However, former Justice Minister, currently Minister of Cabinet Affairs Hon. Michael Makwei later influenced many parliamentarians; 68 voted for a motion that the report be referred to the Ministry of Justice for the legal proceedings.
During the first presentation of the Public Accounts Committee after its work on the report, the South Sudanese Minister of Justice told the August House he will not prosecute any person found guilty on the report. This is due to the fact that the Auditor General’s report should have covered all the government institutions.
Many parliamentarians criticised the report saying it is not comprehensive and lack several facts. Others also criticized that the reports were not comprehensive since they dint audit the Presidency, Judiciary and some government institutions.
However, Mr. Stephen Wondu, the Auditor General who was also summoned yesterday to clarify questions by the House informed Parliament that, at the time of the auditing, several of the government institutions had refused to cooperate with the Chamber.
He told the House also that, as far as his work is concerned, professionally he is to report whatsoever he had found and expressed his opinion. He also cited lack of human resource, political will and ignorance among some of the government institutions as barring factors for comprehensive report.
The 2005/6 financial reports of the Auditor General are the first audited reports presented to parliament since the establishment of the government in 2005. Wondu who took over office in 2010 said that, the prevailing situation in which the government was set up then and the system of accounting, transactions and payments he mentioned could not give the Chamber adequate resources and ground to come up with a comprehensive report.
In his opinion on the two reports, he said they do not express fair and transparent usage of the South Sudan public funds.
Parliament passes report of the Public Accounts Committee and Imports and Exports
During the same sitting the August House continued to deliberate and discuss the report of the Committee of Energy and Mining, Commerce and Industry on import and export Bill, 2011 in its second reading by Hon. Henry Dilah Odwer, the chairperson of the committee. The Bill was a result of sitting No. 13/2011 of the first session dated 21st September, 2011 which was tabled by the minister for Justice after the Bill was presented to the August House.
The Bill was referred to the specialized committee in accordance with 99 (1) of the adopted Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly Regulations (2010) for scrutiny of the Imports and Exports Bill, 2011.
After long deliberations and debate, the August House decided to pass the Bill to third reading with observations and amendments and present next day for third and fourth reading due to urgency.
The sitting was chaired by Right Hon. Speaker Gen. James Wani Igga and attended by 212 members. It was also attended by ministers, Auditor General and chairpersons/deputy chairpersons.