I don’t know much about South Sudan. I’m guessing that it’s south of Sudan, and a quick Wiki-search tells me that the capital is Juba, that the whole country is pretty swampy, and that little is known about its fungi. It is also the world’s youngest nation, having become an independent state on 9 July 2011. Can you just imagine the “to do” list for the government of a new country? Design stamps, build fab monuments, pick which side of the road to drive on, choose good name for currency (the South Sudanese have wisely gone for the pound), decide which Olympic sports to target – oh, and pass lots and lots of legislation. So I am delighted to read that a couple of days ago the government of South Sudan passed its first AML legislation. It’s the usual stuff: institutions must report suspicious transactions, so there must be an FIU for them to report to, and staff must be trained on how to spot the suspicious transactions in the first place – you know the drill.
What actually caught my eye was another initiative by the government. South Sudan has a real problem with corruption – billions and billions of dollars of public money are going astray, and the jaundiced eye of suspicion appears to be falling on the country’s own ruling class, who may be indulging in the cliched behaviour of feathering their own nests and lining their own pockets. Who would have thought it! And in a bid to sort this out, the government has set a deadline of 31 March 2012 for all senior government officials to declare their income and assets to the South Sudan Anti Corruption Commission (SSACC). The latest to do so, apparently, are the top generals of the police force headed by the Inspector General of Police, General Acuil Tito. SSACC head honcho Justice John Gatwech Lul has warned that he will take swift action against those who tell porkies, including automatic confiscation of any undeclared income and assets. I’m not entirely certain but it seems that this information will be made public, as the report I read said that “the SSACC keeps the declared income and assets confidential until they carry out investigations into the sources of such incomes and assets of the individuals”. Can you imagine the outcry if we asked all of our senior government officials to make public all of their assets and income, and the sources thereof? Go South Sudan!