South Sudanese government now wants the Kenyan High Court to reverse an order it issued attaching a bank account it has with CFC Stanbic Bank. It’s argument? The $18 million (Sh1.8 billion) in the account is part of the country’s emergency operation fund, a statement that APG’s lawyer Gilbert Mungu opposes.
“My office was invaded by South Sudanese-looking persons who offered me inducement to have the orders lifted and told me they were expecting payments from the account for business they had done with South Sudan. I listened to them but declined their offers,” Mr Mungu says.
The Juba-based government argues that Khartoum firm Active Partners Group’s (APG) decision to attach the account has delayed its operations.
An arbitration panel awarded the Khartoum firm the huge amount in January last year, paving the way for APG to move to the commercial division of the High Court in Nairobi to enforce the award.
Kenyan courts awarded APG as compensation for a botched power project South Sudan had contracted it. the Khartoum based firm, attached the account to recover $41.9 million (Sh4.2 billion) .
APG filed the enforcement suit in Nairobi’s Milimani Court because the arbitration was done in Nairobi, giving the Kenyan courts jurisdiction over the matter.
Arbitrators Philippe Pinsole, Karel Daele and Richard Omwela in January last year ruled that South Sudan had unlawfully cancelled the $197 million (Sh18.7 billion) tender awarded to APG for the electrification project.
“To date, South Sudan continues to experience severe economic hardship as it also seeks to restore peace and stability within its borders. It is in the interest of justice that South Sudan be allowed to settle the outstanding decretal sum in monthly instalments in order to alleviate its current foreign exchange cash flow crisis,” says Jeremiah Swaka Moses, the undersecretary of South Sudan’s Ministry of Justice.
The Juba government says it should be given nine months and then allowed to pay APG’s debts in instalments of $500,000 (Sh50.5 million) per month. APG’s lawyer Gilbert Mungu, however, says that South Sudan has previously duped them into accepting instalment payments, and that the Juba government used the same argument it is now making to the Nairobi court.
CfC Stanbic transferred the funds to APG’s lawyers after the firm secured orders to attach South Sudan’s account while Justice Fred Ochieng has stopped APG’s advocates from transferring the money until he has heard South Sudan’s application.