A new report on the South Sudan conflict has called for investigations into alleged links between its government officials and foreign companies who are accused of profiting from the war.
The research by The Sentry, an organisation co-founded by film star George Clooney and John Prendergast, names individuals and businesses – including foreign oil companies – which it says have plundered the resources of the country.
It also calls on international regulatory authorities to trace and monitor the private financial transactions of top South Sudan state officials.
“They use the international financial system to move proceeds of their financial crimes. We can work directly with governments and banks to close those avenues off, actually freeze and seize those assets, so that it creates a real level of accountability to these kind of crimes,” the film star said
“Corruption is the driving force for these atrocities,” Mr Clooney added.
The Sentry co-founder Mr Prendergast said the conflict in South Sudan would only abate once there is a “consequence for looting”.
Increased surveillance would pressure banks to stop doing business with suspected war profiteers, Mr Prendergast said.
“Kenyans want the Kenyan banking sector to be the financial one-stop shop for the entire region so they have to open themselves up to the international regulatory authorities. But they are terrified that if they get a bad grade from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) their whole banking sector is going to suffer. That’s a significant counterweight and gives us a chance to do something real,” he said.
The government of South Sudan is yet to respond to the research by The Sentry.
The world’s newest state is grappling with a six-year civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and forced four million people from their homes.
President Salva Kiir and exiled leader of the opposition Riek Machar are in fresh talks to form a unity government, after the collapse of a peace agreement signed last year.
A group of UN experts has warned that the country risks being plunged back into full-scale conflict if hardliners are allowed to sabotage the peace agreement.