Yesterday Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt led a handful of other countries including Bahrain, Yemen in severing diplomatic relations with Qatar – and these have now extended to some Qatar Bank sanctions.
- The three Gulf states gave Qatari visitors and residents two weeks to leave their countries.
- Saudi also closed the border and halted air and sea traffic with Qatar, urging “all brotherly countries and companies to do the same”
- Bahrain’s withdrew its diplomatic mission from the Qatari capital, Doha, within 48 hours
- The UAE ordered Qatari citizens to leave the country within 14 days and banned its citizens from traveling to Qatar.
- Egypt also announced the closure of its airspace and seaports for all Qatari transportation “to protect its national security”.
- UAE-based carriers Emirates, Etihad Airways, and FlyDubai said they would suspend flights to and from Qatar beginning Tuesday morning.
Qatar Airways which flies to over 150 destinations was barred from flying over UAE and Saudi Arabia. They have complied, which now leads to some interesting flight radar maps.
Continuing the onslaught which was apparently green-lit by US President Trump, financial sanctions were now announced today targeting Qatar banks and finance including:
- Banks in Saudi Arabia, UAE & Bahrain HAVE suspended transactions to banks in Qatar, citing instructions by central banks.
- Saudi Central Bank told banks not to trade in #Qatari Riyals in addition to foreign exchanges
- U.A.E. banks not providing leverage on Qatar bonds
- Qatari riyal under pressure as Saudi, UAE banks delayed Qatar deals.
- UAE and Bahraini central banks had asked banks they supervise to report their exposure to Qatari banks
- Some Sri Lankan banks stopped buying Qatari riyals, saying counterpart banks in Singapore had advised them not to accept the currency.
- Commercial banks say that they stopped accepting Qatar Riyal as they have no way of repatriating and clearing them
Older pre-sanction report
- Qatari banks have been borrowing abroad to fund their activities. Their foreign liabilities ballooned to 451 billion riyals ($124 billion) in March from 310 billion riyals at the end of 2015, central bank data shows.
- So any extended disruption to their ties with foreign banks could be awkward, though the government of the world’s biggest exporter has massive financial reserves which it could use to support them. Banks from the United Arab Emirates, Europe and elsewhere have been lending to Qatari institutions.
- Because of its financial reserves and as long as it can continue exporting liquefied natural gas, Qatar looks likely to avoid any crippling economic crisis. But credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday that if trade and capital flows were disrupted, the diplomatic dispute could eventually hurt the outlook for Qatar’s debt.
Yesterday, the Sentry Group, whose mission is dismantling the financing of Africa’s deadliest conflicts, released a report on corruption in South Sudan. As the fighting in South Sudan has gotten worse, with the leaders unable or unwilling to pursue peace, it’s been an open secret that thy have economic links, some of which are in Nairobi, especially in real estate and banking.
Findings & Recommendations
- Even President Kiir and Vice President Machar themselves have acknowledged that corruption is at the core of the country’s current crisis. “An estimated $4 billion are unaccounted for or, simply put, stolen by former and current officials, as well as corrupt individuals with close ties to government officials,” President Kiir wrote in a June 2012 letter to government officials that was leaked to the press.
- Most of the funds that these kleptocrats have amassed appear to come from the oil, mining, foreign exchange, and banking sectors as well as food procurement and defense supply contracts from the government.
- South Sudanese leaders have paid lip service to the need for oversight, but public institutions have been transformed from entities that are supposed to safeguard the rule of law and provide social services into predatory entities that do quite the opposite.
- Top South Sudanese officials and their immediate family members hold stakes in numerous commercial ventures are not actually available to the public…Immediate family members of South Sudanese PEPs should be required to declare their assets.
- U.S. authorities, as well as their counterparts overseas—in places like Australia, the European Union, Kenya, and Uganda— should open investigations that could lead to the forfeiture of criminally derived assets and to the prosecution of those involved in profiting from corruption in South Sudan.
- Governments should thoroughly examine whether or not banks involved in these transactions fulfilled their due diligence, reporting, and compliance requirements.
- The facilitators and enablers of corruption and mass atrocities should be priority targets for sanctions designations. .. been facilitated—knowingly or not—by a wide range of lawyers, brokers, banks, and foreign companies.
- The U.S. government and U.N. Security Council have already sanctioned a series of mid-level commanders from both sides of the conflict in South Sudan. The failure to follow on these actions with any meaningful scrutiny of higher level targets muted any message these actions may have had, resulting in a perception in South Sudan that the international community is not serious about imposing consequences.
- Kenya and Uganda, in particular, have relatively solid anti-money laundering legal frameworks on paper that can provide a basis for action against corruption, as well as demonstrate that local laws are being violated by banks that process suspicious transactions on behalf of South Sudanese PEPs. These banks should already be conducting enhanced due diligence on South Sudanese PEPs, according to the FATF Recommendations, and taking other measures required to prevent suspicious transactions.
Pic by @mankangwafo
- Kenya Commercial Bank processed large payments from multinational companies operating in South Sudan into the accounts of two senior South Sudanese politically exposed persons over a period of several years.
- “Some of these ministers have bought apartments, have bought very beautiful houses, villas,” President Kiir continued. “They are hiding it in Kenya and they refuse to reveal it.” … A source within South Sudan’s government confirmed to The Sentry that the Kiir and Machar homes in Nairobi were close to one another in Lavington
- Violent takeover of KK Security”: One of Machar’s relatives became involved—albeit highly controversially—in KK Security, a Kenya-based company active throughout East and Central Africa.
For KCB, or any other Kenyan banks operating in South Sudan, they are really without blame. The report does not highlight if the transaction with the leaders were in Kenya or in South Sudan where they have 18 branches.
South Sudan is relatively small for Kenya banks, accounting for just 13% of assets outside Kenya (Tanzania is 39%, Uganda is 30%). In the absence of rules from the (regulator) Bank of Southern Sudan, (unlikely) or Kenya’s CBK, or the Kenya government, to freeze doing business with people who probably are in charge of other South Sudan government accounts at the bank, is asking too much.