$7 million cash hoard found in home of Sudan’s ousted leader Omar Al-Bashir

Sudanese protesters protest outside the army complex in Khartoum on April 20, 2019. (AFP / OZAN KOSE)
Updated 21 April 2019
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$7 million cash hoard found in home of Sudan’s ousted leader Omar Al-Bashir

  • Raiders seize suitcases containing euros, US dollar and Sudanese pounds
  • Bashir was ousted by the military on April 11 after months of protests demanding an end to corruption

CAIRO: Sudan’s deposed leader Omar Al-Bashir faces trial for money laundering after a hoard of cash was found in his home in Khartoum.

Military intelligence officers who searched the former president’s house found suitcases containing 6 million euros, more than $351,000 in US bills, and 5 million Sudanese pounds — a total of more than $7 million.

He faces charges of money laundering and possession of large sums of foreign currency without legal grounds, a judicial source said. 

“The chief public prosecutor ... ordered the former president detained and quickly questioned in preparation to put him on trial,” the source said. “The public prosecution will question him in Kobar prison.”

Bashir was ousted by the military on April 11 after months of protests demanding an end to corruption. 

The country’s transitional military council last week ordered the central bank to review financial transfers since April 1 and to seize “suspect” funds. 

It also ordered the “suspension of the transfer of ownership of any shares until further notice and for any large or suspect transfers of shares or companies to be reported.”

A delegation from the Alliance for Freedom and Change, the umbrella group for protesters, held talks with the military council on Saturday about handing over power to a civilian administration.

If the military rulers refused to hand over power, the protest leaders will announce a “sovereign civilian council” on Sunday, said Ahmed Al-Rabia, a leading member of the Sudanese Professionals Association, the group that launched the initial protests.

“If they are willing to negotiate, then there is a chance that tomorrow’s announcement could be postponed,” he said. “What we want from them is a timetable to hand over power, so things don’t drag.”

Army chiefs had held two rounds of talks with the protest leaders since Bashir was removed, he said. “During these talks we’ve felt that the military council has no desire to hand over power.”

Officials from the African Union also held talks on Saturday with the military council.  

Gen. Omar Zain Al-Abidin, head of the council’s political committee, said the military council’s job was to provide a climate for political forces to rule Sudan in a peaceful and democratic way.  They discussed how the African Union could help in the transition.

The group has given Sudan two weeks to form a civilian administration or risk expulsion.

 


Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

Updated 22 May 2019
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Sabotage of oil tankers stirs concerns over Gulf shipping

  • The acts of sabotage near the UAE coast highlight new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies
  • Experts say increased threat to navigation and global oil supplies not limited regionally but has global dimension

DUBAI: Amid rising tensions between the US and Iran, sabotage attacks on four commercial vessels off the coast of the UAE’s Fujairah port have raised serious questions about maritime security in the Gulf.

The incidents, which included attacks on two Saudi oil tankers, were revealed by the UAE government on May 12, drawing strong condemnation from governments in the Middle East and around the world as well as the Arab League.

Now experts have warned that the sabotage attacks highlight a new threat to maritime traffic and global oil supplies.

A Saudi government source said: “This criminal act constitutes a serious threat to the security and safety of maritime navigation, and adversely affects regional and international peace and security.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said the incidents threatened international maritime traffic.

While crimes on the high seas, including piracy, have tapered off in recent years, the attacks on the ships, three of which are registered to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have called into question common assumptions about the Gulf’s stability.

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Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington D.C., said governments of the Gulf region are mandated to watch over oceans and waterways. “On top of this requirement is the need for a new regime of maritime coordination to prevent attacks on shipping because of the repercussions for logistical chains, corporate strategies and insurance rates,” he told Arab News.

The sabotage attacks took place east of Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which most Gulf oil exports pass and which Iran has threatened to block in the event of a military confrontation with the US.

Johan Obdola, president of the International Organization for Security and Intelligence, said the recent attacks underscore the need for closer intelligence-coordinated capabilities among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, including satellite communication and maritime or vessel security technology.

“The threats to oil tankers are not limited to the Gulf, but have a global dimension,” he said.

According to Obdola: “A coordinated joint task force integrating oil, intelligence security and military forces should be (established) to project and prepare (for potential future attacks). This is a time to be as united as ever.”

GCC countries have intensified security in international waters, the US navy said. Additionally, two US guided-missile destroyers entered the Gulf on May 16 in response to what the US called signs of possible Iranian aggression.

“The attack has brought (the region) a bit closer to a possible military confrontation amid the escalation in tensions between the US and Iran,” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a former chairman of the Arab Council for Social Sciences, told Arab News.

He said Iran is purposely dragging Saudi Arabia, the UAE and possibly other Gulf countries into its fight with the US. “The credibility of the US is at stake and Trump has said he will meet any aggression with unrelenting force. If Iran continues on this path, we might see some kind of a military showdown on a limited scale.”

Given the importance of the region’s oil supplies to the US, Abdulla said “it’s not just the responsibility of Arab Gulf states but an international responsibility” to keep the shipping lanes safe.