Toppled South Sudan Vice President Dr Riek Machar has been exposed for profiteering in dubious arms deals and stashing away millions of dollars in offshore companies.
An investigation undertaken by The Sentry suggests that Machar and members of his family have engaged in “several questionable transactions and business ventures”.
But the uncovered wealth shows Machar can hardly explain the source of his vast wealth.
Watch (NOOW), with its implementing partner C4ADS.
Under the theme, ‘War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay: Stopping the looting and destruction in South Sudan,’ the report digs deep into several South Sudan officials’ secretive business transactions.
Investigators took keen interest in Machar and his family’s offshored wealth, its business engagements, and apparent links to international arms brokers.
In mid-2014, a Russian man in his mid-30s turned up in war-torn South Sudan to do business.
This Russian broker identified himself as “Mark Goldmann” and claimed to head a company called MGA Capital, offering to negotiate the sale of military equipment in return for the country’s most lucrative asset: oil.
Documents obtained by The Sentry indicate that, for several months in mid-2014, Goldmann was acting as an intermediary for negotiations between Machar and a Ukrainian defense firm called “Nebo Ukrainy.”
“Mark Goldmann” is one of at least two aliases used by a Geneva-based Russian citizen named “Magomed Erzanukaev.”
Additionally, MGA Capital—the company “Goldmann” claimed to head up—has the exact same registered address in Geneva as Leman Commtrade, a company wholly owned by Erzanukaev.
According to publicly-available corporate records, MGA Capital was incorporated in Geneva on May 20, 2014, and wholly owned by Mark Goldmann, who is listed as a Russian citizen.
A letter signed by Mark Goldmann and dated August 25, 2014, claims that MGA Capital is involved in “importing military equipment for the improvement of its military defense … in return for crude oil.”
Machar also appears to have authorized Goldmann to negotiate on his behalf.
A document signed by Riek Machar Teny and dated September 27, 2014, appears to entrust MGA Capital, represented by Mark Goldmann, with power of attorney and “the right to conduct negotiations in regard to obtaining finance, and setting up relations with various government organizations.”
The document notes that this power extends only to preliminary negotiations and that all contracts negotiated on behalf of the SPLM-IO would be signed by Machar.
The Sentry has obtained documents indicating that by the time Goldmann received power of attorney from
Machar, he had already been authorized to negotiate deals in South Sudan on behalf of Nebo Ukrainy, the Kiev-based defense firm.
A letter dated August 1, 2014, and signed on behalf of Nebo Ukrainy by N.S. Ryabets appears to entrust Mark Goldmann, CEO of MGA Capital, “with the right to conduct the interests of the corporation in the Country of South Sudan.”
The document notes that power of attorney is provided to Goldmann and affords him “the right to advertise the products of the Corporation, and to receive applications for the supply of the Corporation” and “to conduct preliminary negotiations without the right to sign contracts.”
Nebo Ukrainy appears to have extensive links with the military as well as the weapons industry in Ukraine.
N.S. Ryabets, a 70-year-old retired lieutenant general who once served as the deputy commander of Ukraine’s air defense corps, is listed as head of Nebo Ukrainy’s board in the letter that afforded power of attorney to Goldmann.
One Russian news article claims that the company is Ukrainian state-run and that the chairman as of late 2015 was Vladimir Tkachev.
Mr. Tkachev, who also served as a senior officer in Ukraine’s military, is also listed as the chairman of JSC Military-Insurance Company (MIC), a company with a listed business address that matches the address listed on Nebo Ukrainy documents obtained by The Sentry.
Other members include Andriy F. Kukin, a retired Ukrainian colonel who worked in Soviet military intelligence and for the KGB in the 1980s.
The revelations could point to Machar’s source of wealth and weaponry to confront the government of President Salva Kiir.
When war broke out in December 2013, Machar quickly mobilised troops and arms to take over government.
His mission was blocked by the elite Ugandan Special Forces who arrived in the country a few days after the failed coup.
But his source of artillery especially anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons shocked South Sudan’s top military brass.
Machar would continue to put up a stiff and protracted military resistance for a staggering two years, bringing the South Sudan economy to its knees.
Documents indicate that after retiring from the military, Andriy F. Kukin was director-general of Ukrspetsexport, a firm reported to have sold weapons in South Sudan and served as head of Ukrainian Cargo Airways, a defunct state-owned airline that specialized in arms transfers.
It remains unclear whether or not a deal between
Machar and Nebo Ukrainy was ever finalized.
But the information blows the lid off Machar’s deep connections to international arms dealers.