Revelations on Erik Prince’s Frontier Services Group; Justice Department Urged to Investigate
John Prendergast, Founding Director of the Enough Project, testified today on “South Sudan’s Prospects for Peace and Security” presenting critical recommendations for U.S. leadership, including imposing and enforcing targeted sanctions, to pressure South Sudan’s leaders to place the well-being of their people ahead of personal enrichment and power politics.
In his submitted testimony, Prendergast also revealed new information about the activities in South Sudan of Blackwater founder Erik Prince’s company Frontier Services Group (FSG). Documents obtained by The Sentry, a new investigative initiative co-founded by George Clooney and Prendergast, appear to indicate that Frontier Logistics Consultancy DMCC, a subsidiary of FSG, also signed a $5.6 million contract to provide “logistical support” to the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. Prendergast recommended that the U.S. Department of State and Department of Justice thoroughly examine whether or not Prince and his associates have violated U.S. laws and trade restrictions.
South Sudan is a country that has effectively been kidnapped for ransom by its leaders. This was never so evident than during my last visit to the country earlier this year. A government at its most basic level is supposed to deliver social services, provide security, and safeguard the rule of law. In South Sudan, however, it has been transformed into a predatory criminal enterprise that serves only the interests of those at the top of the power pyramid. Competing factions of the ruling party have hijacked the state itself and are using its institutions—along with deadly force—to finance and fortify networks aimed at self-enrichment and maintaining or acquiring power.
Unchecked greed is the main conflict driver in South Sudan, although politicians have mobilized armed elements on the basis of ethnicity, leading to horrific war crimes which make peace and reconciliation all the more difficult. And it turns out that, despite its central importance in the war, unchecked greed is the one factor that has not been addressed within the context of international peace efforts.
Testimony related to Erik Prince and Frontier Services Group (excerpt):
It is not only South Sudan’s kleptocrats that are making a fortune from the country’s brutal civil war. A host of mercenaries and war profiteers have turned up in South Sudan, eager to make profit from the country’s misery.
Take Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater, for example. When Prince’s firm, Frontier Services Group (FSG), began operating in South Sudan, he was explicit about one thing: FSG was dealing solely with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, not the military. Prince and FSG indeed have significant business interests in South Sudan’s oil sector, including a contract to build and operate a diesel refinery and a $23.3 million contract “to transport supplies and perform maintenance on production facilities at the oil fields.” However, providing services to South Sudan’s security forces would require a special license from the State Department in order to comply with the U.S. Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). In fact, Prince’s Blackwater company had been fined for operating without such licenses several times, including once in 2006 for offering its services to southern Sudanese rebels prior to independence.
Although Prince’s associates stressed that they were not doing business with South Sudan’s military, an investigation by the online investigative news site The Intercept found that Prince’s company had attempted to provide attack aircraft to the Government of South Sudan in addition to other defense-related services. When crafting another pitch to South Sudan’s government for an operation that, according to the report, would entail “oil field security training, security intervention and protection support services to the government” for a cost of some $300 million, The Intercept found that Prince and his associates “explicitly plotted a business structure for the contract that would expose no traceable connection to them” which they believed “would enable them to hide violations of U.S. and international defense regulations.” Documents obtained by The Sentry appear to confirm some key findings of this investigation. Records obtained through our investigation indicate that Frontier Logistics Consultancy DMCC, a subsidiary of FSG, also signed a $5.6 million contract to provide “logistical support” to the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. The U.S. Department of State and Department of Justice should thoroughly examine whether or not Prince and his associates have violated U.S. laws and trade restrictions.
Hearing details and video: http://foreignaffairs.house.
Interview availability: Mr. Prendergast and experts from the Sentry will be available for selected media interviews following the hearing. For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606, firstname.lastname@example.org.
About THE SENTRY
The Sentry seeks to dismantle the networks of perpetrators, facilitators, and enablers who fund and profit from Africa’s deadliest conflicts. Our investigations follow the money from conflict zones and into global economic centers, using open source data collection, field research, and state-of-the-art network analysis technology. The Sentry provides information and analysis that engages civil society and media, supports regulatory action and prosecutions, and provides policymakers with the information they require to take effective action. Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is an initiative of the Enough Project, with its supporting partners C4ADS and Not On Our Watch (NOOW). Learn more at TheSentry.org
About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org