Media reports, corporate records, and testimony from people familiar with Paul Malong Awan’s activities paint a troubling picture about the sources of his funds-a new report by Sentry has revealed.
Malong is said to be among the four army chiefs of staff, four high-ranking military leaders, and three opposition militia leaders engaged in business activities indicative of money laundering and corruption
The report says, many of these men share personal or commercial ties with President Salva Kiir, who regularly intervenes in legal proceedings targeting his staunchest friends and allies
Two people who held positions at the Bank of South Sudan during Malong’s tenure as the army’s chief of staff told The Sentry that one of his representatives would regularly withdraw foreign currency from the central bank’s cash reserves.
The sources, who requested anonymity in order to speak freely, each separately identified the same Malong representative.
The foreign currency cash withdrawals they described, most of them in US dollars, took place after hours or on weekends on an almost weekly basis, according to one of the former central bank employees.
The same source indicated that the practice violated official procedure and circumvented strict, multi-agency approval processes. Nonetheless, the source added, Malong’s representatives argued that bank employees could not refuse issuing cash for national security matters.
In 2014, the Malong-led Defense Ministry “procured loans of billions of dollars from South Sudanese oil companies in order to acquire military equipment. However, as of later that year, no actual military purchases using these funds had been made,” the US Treasury said
Corporate records reviewed by The Sentry show that the Malong family has a robust corporate footprint. The business holdings of Malong’s family are multilayered and complex, in part because he allegedly has more than 80 wives and more than 100 children.
The Sentry has identified one of Malong’s wives—National Assembly member Ajok Wol Atak—and at least three of his children—Garang, Awan, and Cecilia—as having held stakes alongside the general in at least 27 companies registered in South Sudan.
These business interests span the oil, mining, banking, foreign exchange, aviation, telecommunications, and construction sectors.
When contacted by The Sentry for comment, Awan Paul Malong confirmed that he is the son of Paul Malong Awan, but stated: “I am not a businessman or linked to any business.”
Garang Paul Malong likewise denied knowledge of business connections in South Sudan.
Malong has personally held shares in at least three South Sudan-registered companies, including Mer Forex Bureau alongside Ajok Wol Atak and three of his children, records show.
Those records further indicate that Malong signed several related business documents for Mer Forex Bureau on behalf of some of his children.
While the central bank has not listed Mer Forex Bureau as a formally licensed foreign currency exchange, The Sentry has reviewed documents indicating that the company has been active with employees in Juba.
Malong has also held a 30% share in Wara Wara Investment Company (an alternative spelling of Warawar, his birth town located some 250 miles north of Juba), according to records reviewed by The Sentry.
Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, a Sudanese businessman widely known by his pseudonym “Al-Cardinal” who was designated by the United States in 2019 for fraud and corruption in South Sudan, held another 30% share in the firm at the time of its registration, with a Chinese national owning the rest of the stakes.
In addition, records reviewed by The Sentry indicate that Malong has been a 50% shareholder of Canal Ltd, alongside Garang Majak Bol, who served as Aweil state finance minister until his removal in 2017
Several companies with ties to Malong’s relatives have reportedly been involved in incidents of apparent corruption, including a loan scandal and abuse of the government’s letters of credit program that ran from 2012 to 2015.
Ajok Wol Atak and two of Malong’s children founded Hong Panda in 2012.
The company reportedly provided a loan in 2014 to Northern Bahr el-Ghazal state, where Malong was governor, after which the state repaid the loan with a staggering 55% interest rate, despite experiencing extreme financial difficulties at the time.
Golden Stars Holding Co. Ltd., in which Ajok Wol Atak has held shares, appears in the auditor general’s 2015 report on the government’s billion-dollar letters of credit program launched in 2012. Essential food, fuel, and pharmaceutical products were meant to be imported under the program, but few of these goods were ever delivered.
According to the audit report, Golden Stars received a $400,000 letter of credit from Nile Petroleum Corporation, or Nilepet. Marketing materials posted on social media describe Golden Stars as an export and general trading company.
The auditor general found that Nilepet failed to ensure fuel deliveries in what he described as a “grave shortcoming from the part of Nilepet to effectively oversee proper use of government resources
Corporate records indicate the Malong family’s business partners have hailed from countries around the globe, including China, Eritrea, India, Israel, South Africa, Sudan, the United States, and Zimbabwe. Among their most prominent fellow shareholders is Tim Tebeila, a rags-to-riches South African mogul involved in mining, real estate development, telecommunications, and financial services.
President Kiir’s son Thiik Salva Kiir Mayardit is listed as shareholder of ETN Ltd
According to corporate records, Paul Malong’s son Garang has also held shares in the manufacturing company ULKA Co. Ltd., and at least two others, alongside Indian nationals.
Documents further indicate that Malong’s daughter Cecilia Achol Malong has formed a business partnership with an American citizen, Araya Abate.
The Malong family also appears to have investments in the mining sector alongside foreign nationals. Documents reviewed by The Sentry show that Hong Panda has also been a shareholder in another international venture, Royal Mining and Engineering Co., which is co-owned by several South Sudan-registered companies and the Ugandan company Samara Place PTY Ltd., itself connected to a South African firm of the same name.
Who is Malong
“I’m not a rich man,” Malong said in an October 2018 interview with Kenya Citizen TV. “I have nothing.” The interview took place on the front lawn of Malong’s mansion in Nyari Estate, an upscale gated community on the northern outskirts of Nairobi. The home is one of at least three luxury properties outside South Sudan belonging to Malong. These houses—and the luxury vehicles photographed in the driveway—are just some of the numerous indications of the Malong family’s wealth.
When stopped by security while fleeing Juba in May 2017, Malong was “reportedly found with currency worth millions of US dollars in his possession that he had allegedly stolen from the SPLA treasury,” the US Treasury Department indicated in a statement announcing it was designating him.
Malong, his wife, and several of his children have owned stakes in firms operating across a wide range of sectors, including a petroleum company, according to the US Treasury Department. In addition, Malong has been involved in numerous incidents of mass violence against civilians, in particular leading militia forces in the December 2013 anti-Nuer assaults in Juba