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October 23, 2018

We have no link to South Sudan Sh1.03billion cash, says Ecobank

Ecobank Towers in Nairobi's Central Business District.Photo/File
Ecobank Towers in Nairobi's Central Business District.Photo/File

Ecobank yesterday denied any involvement in the Sh1.03 billion transferred from South Sudan by a former government official, and which is now a subject of investigations.

The South Sudanese government has reported tracing its missing money to accounts at three banks in Kenya. These are linked to Lt Gen Thomas Cirillo Swaka, a former SPLA Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of Logistics, and his kin Fueni Cirillo.

Ecobank said documents, including a bank statement, bearing its letterhead were falsified.

“We wish to confirm we neither hold the account number published in The Star newspaper nor have any accounts that bear names similar to what was mentioned in The Star report. Furthermore, the bank statements published in the newspaper are falsified,” the bank said in a statement.

Ecobank said there are glaring inconsistencies in the story and documentation relied on to publish the report, including a non-existent account number, non-existent account names and a wrong branch address.

“The story indicated that $10 million had been stolen from the South Sudan government and stashed in three Kenyan banks, among them Ecobank Kenya. We wish to emphatically state that we adhere to strong anti-money laundering policies, as well as Know Your Customer procedures in line with best practice and regulatory requirements,” the bank said.

“We conduct our business professionally, ethically, with integrity and in accordance with Kenyan laws and regulations, as well as international best practice and have put in place a robust vetting process aimed at ensuring Ecobank  Group and all its affiliates are not used as conduits of money laundering.”

Ecobank said it has not received any official request from the authorities on the issue.

Sudan Chief of General Staff Paul Awan said the cash went missing after Swaka quit his job and defected from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

A letter dated February 9 shows that Awan asked Renish Omullo, a special envoy in charge of Germany international and regional affairs, to trace and return the cash, which was transacted in US dollars.

Omullo wrote to Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed on February 10 requesting that bank accounts held by Swaka and Cirillo be frozen.

Swaka was described in the letter as a former SPLA officer and fugitive in Kenya who stole more than $10 million. In his resignation, Swaka accused President Salva Kiir and SPLA leaders of abuses and pushing the tribal agenda in the country.

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