October 11, 2019 / 2:55 PM / 7 days ago

U.S. imposes sanctions on two South Sudanese businessmen for fraud, bribery

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on two South Sudanese businessmen, Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal and Kur Ajing Ater, for their involvement in bribery, kickbacks and procurement fraud with senior government officials, the Treasury Department said on Friday.

After the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Benjamin Bol Mel, a key adviser to the South Sudanese president, in 2017, Mel used an account in the name of the companies of Al-Cardinal to evade sanctions and store personal funds, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

In early 2019, the South Sudanese government paid millions of dollars to a company owned by Al-Cardinal ostensibly for food, but that in fact was routed to senior South Sudanese government officials, the Treasury Department said.

The Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on five companies owned or controlled by Al-Cardinal.

The other businessman targeted by Friday’s sanctions, Ater, bribed key South Sudanese officials to maintain influence and access to the country’s oil market, the Treasury Department said.

He also received a large cash payment in 2018 from South Sudan’s government that was sent to a senior South Sudanese government official, the Treasury Department said.

Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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