JUBA (15/Sep/2015), Radio Tamazug;
South Sudan’s top army general Paul Malong Awan has sought to intimidate and threaten managers of Dar Petroleum Operating Company over a currency deal supposedly rebuffed by company officials, according to corporate and security sources in Juba.
Talks between Malong and the Chinese-Malaysian company came to light after the SPLA Chief of Staff took a large armed escort with him to company’s offices on Wednesday last week after returning from Rwanda.
According to one of the company’s staff, Malong called a meeting with the company’s managers and allegedly demanded the release of millions of dollars to him personally.
Multiple corporate sources elaborated on this, explaining that Malong had money in South Sudanese pounds that he wished to convert into dollars and had been told that Dar Petroleum was selling some dollars to support their local operations at the present market price and this was being done secretly.
The sources said that he got this information from some of the staff of Dar and having heard this he wanted to change his money but not at the current black market rate and not at official rate. His offer was reportedly at 7.5 SSP per dollar, significantly lower than the street rate on the black market but significantly higher than the official forex and bank rates.
After company managers declined this offer, some were taken away by armed forces for questioning but were later released, according to one of the sources.
A security source further revealed that Malong, still furious, also approached the National Security Service about the same issue, requesting the Service’s Economic Intelligence unit to investigate Dar Petroleum for illegal currency dealings.
The security source would not verify that that company managers were arrested but did confirm that Malong had attempted to get some dollars but failed to secure them after disagreeing on an informal rate.
Finally, a military source claimed that Malong’s recent visit to the company headquarters was only a “familiarization visit”. The source denied that Malong had threatened or arrested any company officials or was involved in black market currency trading.
The military official downplayed these reports as a smear campaign against the personality of the chief of general staff.