By Okech Francis
A report issued by the United States based investigator, the Sentry has been criticized hugely both in the region as well as internationally after reality dawned that it confided in a thief to seek information.
The report, published in February, and centered on South Sudan alleged that local businesses were conduits of trade-based money laundering.
Titled “Crude Dealings: How Oil-Backed Loans Raise Red Flags for Illegal Activity in South Sudan” the Sentry report accused them over bribery and tax evasion as well.
The Sentry work with Biswick Tiyamalu Kaswasa, a former Chief Finance Officer at Trinity Energy to generate the report.
According to Steve Biko Wafula, a Kenyan analyst, Kaswasa who is a Malawi National is only trying to clean himself after being arrested in Rwanda over the theft of US $ 350,000 from Trinity Energy in 2018.
He was arrested in Rwanda and extradited to South Sudan by Interpol to face charges.
During his extradition, Interpol wrote, “Biswick stole US $ 350,000 (Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand USD) from the said company, absconded, and ran away to Rwanda. “Communications between South Sudanese authorities and Rwandan authorities led to INTERCEPTION of the subject at Kigali International Airport and “now the Rwandan Authorities asked for an Officer from South Sudan Police Service to Bring Back the Suspect” to Juba.”
Wafula said that rubbishes him as a credible whistleblower and warned that Biswick’s relationship with The Sentry was based on “a desire for revenge or personal gain.”
“In my view, I believe Biswick lacks the moral authority to be a credible whistle-blower,” Wafula said in a statement issued yesterday.
In Juba, after extradiction, Biswick was charged under Section 348 of South Sudan Penal Code Act 2008 for the offense of Criminal Breach of trust opened at Central Police Division of South Sudan Police Department with Criminal Case No. 6513.
According to a US based think-tank, the New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA), the Sentry report is itself “misleading and unfair on many levels.”
“We believe that this report is extremely counterproductive towards the growth of South Sudan as a constitutional republic in the global community,” the think-tank said in a statement released in New York last month.
The Sentry mentioned that Trinity Energy, South Sudanese firms handled money transfers and currency exchanges which were “consistent with risk indicators for trade-based money laundering.”
It also castigated a series of loans of $30 million one business, Trinity Energy acquired from Africa Export-Import bank way back in 2018, noting that “the loan deal skirted legislation on oversight, transparency, and competition and facilitated off-book government spending” with clear indications that it “enabled powerful individuals to benefit from the manipulation of business worth hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Trinity Energy also referred to the report as “significant and defamatory allegations.”
It its statement, NYCFPA described The Sentry report as based on “old and inaccurate data points,” which raise validity on the findings.
“This is particularly troubling when it comes to assessing the progress of the South Sudanese government and business community in the way they conduct business,” the think-tank said.
“We believe that inaccurate data can lead to incorrect conclusions being drawn, which can have significant implications for policy decisions and investments,” it said.
“Given the challenges that South Sudan continues to address, including creating the enabling environment for private companies such as Trinity Energy and many others to strive and create decent jobs that the South Sudanese people badly need, we believe it is crucial that any report assessing the progress of the business community and government is based on current and reliable data.”
The think-tank also questioned the credibility of Biswick after he was accused of theft of money from Trinity Energy.
It described him as “an individual facing charges of money laundering and fraud in multiple jurisdictions.”
“A source under investigation for these serious allegations has already demonstrated a willingness to engage in unethical and illegal activities, which call into question the accuracy and trustworthiness of any information they provide, especially their motivations,” the think-tank said.
“In fact, it is entirely possible that they are using their position to manipulate the information they present in order to further their own interests,” it said.
The trek of South Sudan on the road to becoming a prominent democracy and economic player in Africa is an important issue making it therefore crucial that The Sentry seek out more reliable sources of information and be cautious about accepting any information from sources with such serious ethical and legal concerns, the think-tank which was commissioned in July of 2022 to conduct research and provide a delegation to travel to South Sudan on a fact-finding mission to analyze the peace implementation in the country, said.
“We urge U.S. policy makers to be very cautious in drawing conclusions and taking action that will be counterproductive,” it said.