Kenya says no to Trump request to seize South Sudan assets

Kenya is rejecting fresh pressure from the United States to seize Kenya-based properties of South Sudanese leaders.  The U.S. says many of those properties were purchased with proceeds from corruption, money laundering and war profits.

Officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs say the country is happy to share intelligence with the US on illicit money flows from South Sudan, but it must first establish mechanisms for verifying the reports provided by Washington DC.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said Kenya is capable of seizing properties from illicit proceeds but will only act within the context of international practices through the United Nations conventions and the Bretton Woods institutions.

“Kenya knows its obligations in regards to corruption and money laundering, and is working closely with the international community on the same. However, we work with multilateral platforms and don’t take instructions from other sovereign states,” Mr. Kamau said.

Nairobi last week came under pressure from the Trump administration —keen on ending the war in South Sudan — to investigate and seize the wealth of South Sudanese leaders who allegedly invest illicit money in the country’s real estate.

The Trump administration’s actions follow the publication of a report in 2016, commissioned by actor George Clooney, which accuses South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, opposition leader Riek Machar, and top generals of making themselves rich while the country has struggled under a civil war of their making.

The report found that family members of President Kiir and Mr Machar reside in luxurious homes outside South Sudan, including homes in one particular upmarket neighbourhood of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

It also said that former army chief Paul Malong, whose salary was about $45,000 per year, has at least two villas in Uganda in addition to a $2m mansion in a gated community in Nairobi.

In March, the US imposed sanctions on 15 South Sudanese oil operators that it said were key sources of finance for the government.