WikiLeaks cables: Sudanese president stashed $9bn in UK banks

Published on The Guardian, by Afua Hirsch, December 17, 2010.

Speculation that Omar al-Bashir siphoned $9bn in oil money and deposited it in foreign accounts could fuel calls for his arrest.

Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has siphoned as much as $9bn out of his impoverished country, and much of it may be stashed in London banks, according to secret US diplomatic cables that recount conversations with the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court … //

… Details of the allegations emerge in the latest batch of leaked embassy cables released by WikiLeaks which reveal that: 

  • • US officials regard European human rights standards as an “irritant”, criticising the Council of Europe for its stance on secret rendition of terror suspects.
  • • Diplomats believe judges in the war crimes trial of the Liberian ex-president Charles Taylor have been deliberately causing delays to ensure the only African judge is presiding when the verdict is delivered.

The cables were released as the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, accused the US of mounting an aggressive, illegal investigation against him. “I would say that there is a very aggressive investigation, that a lot of face has been lost by some people, and some people have careers to make by pursuing famous cases, but that is actually something that needs monitoring,” he told reporters outside the mansion on the Norfolk/Suffolk border where he is staying while on bail.

Assange has repeatedly asserted that he is the victim of a smear campaign. The Guardian today publishes the first full account of the allegations made against him by two Swedish women based on previously unseen police documents.

If Ocampo’s claim about Bashir’s fortune is correct, Sudanese funds being held in London banks amount to one tenth of annual GDP in Sudan, which ranks fifteenth from bottom in the UN’s index of the world’s poorest countries. Ocampo discussed evidence of the stash with the Americans just days after issuing an arrest warrant for the Sudanese president in March 2009, the first issued by the court against a serving head of state. Bashir was indicted for seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity last year with a further three counts of genocide added in July. Ocampo, who has never released details of the alleged funds, was severely criticised for the indictment by many in Sudan and internationally amid criticisms the move would inflame fighting in the southern Darfur region.

Despite the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, Bashir has remained popular among many others in the country, particularly those who have benefited from the oil boom brought about during his presidency. A spokesperson for the Sudanese government dismissed the claim, describing it as further evidence of the ICC’s political agenda in discrediting the Sudanese government … (full text).

Links:

Viva WikiLeaks! SiCKO Was Not Banned in Cuba, on Michael Moore.com, by Michael Moore, December 18, 2010;

Why I’m Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange, on ZNet, by Michael Moore, December 14, 2010;

Realtime results for wikileaks: New results will appear below as they become available;

The official WikiLeak Website, see also Submissions.

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