April 4, 2019 (Washington, D.C.) – In a new report released today, The Sentry highlights the pervasive role of profiteers and financiers in the perpetration of atrocities, pointing to critical omissions in the ways those crimes are prosecuted. The report details how commercial actors consistently enjoy impunity for their roles in some of the world’s most brutal crimes, and how armed conflict today provides an attractive lawlessness for companies and businesspeople in a range of industries.
The report, “Prosecute the Profiteers: Following the Money to Support War Crimes Accountability,” proposes new approaches and tools for justice efforts to address the dirty money that fuels some of the worst ongoing crises of our time. The report’s analysis and recommendations focus on one of the deadliest and most lucrative parts of the world, East and Central Africa, and highlight important contemporary cases from elsewhere in the world.
Holly Dranginis, Senior Legal Analyst at The Sentry, said, “The current ethos says business executives don’t belong in a war crimes courtroom. This is a mistake, given the financial support and profit incentives commercial networks provide for army commanders and intelligence officials responsible for torture, mass atrocities, and other grave crimes of war. International and domestic courts have tools to create a new paradigm for accountability by focusing on money. Making violence in East and Central Africa less lucrative is a job that should concern law enforcement worldwide.”
The report proposes a shift in the approach to justice for serious international crimes, targeting the perpetrators of atrocities where they are often most vulnerable: their money. According to the report, the globalized nature of commercial networks has shielded them from the crimes they help commit, but can also be a boon for champions of justice: following the money in war crimes investigations will have a multiplier effect on the number of jurisdictions that can prosecute a war crime.
John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry and Founding Director of the Enough Project, said, “The profitable exploits of companies in mining, oil, intelligence, and financial services play major roles in the perpetration of atrocities. That is no longer something anyone can ignore. Disrupting illicit financial flows is core to the peacebuilding agenda in East and Central Africa. That means making better use of network sanctions and anti-money laundering measures, and it also means deploying the power of the courts. International prosecutors and domestic war crimes units have a chance to break ground in the financial arena, by holding commercial enablers to account, and seizing assets. This report shows the way to make sure we finally start to see financiers and profiteers held to account for their roles in grave violence with more regularity.”
In a comprehensive look at domestic and international efforts to prosecute atrocity crimes, the report suggests important interventions to bring the financial aspects of war crimes into courtrooms, in service to justice and other fundamental rights of affected communities.
The report makes the following recommendations to authorities at domestic, regional, and international levels:
- Follow the money in war crimes investigations, adopting strategies to identify financial facilitators responsible for serious international crimes.
- Domestic and international prosecutors charged with prosecuting serious international crimes should prioritize financial crimes expertise as essential to their work.
- Collaborate across borders and use open-source intelligence gathering, especially in foreign domestic courts with jurisdiction over financial actors with a role in atrocity crimes.
- Prosecute economic crimes where atrocities occur, including in the DRC’s military justice system and the Central African Republic’s new Special Criminal Court.
- Pass and amend key legislation to prosecute perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities.
- Seize the proceeds of crimes and use that money to furnish reparations for victims and survivors.
- Prioritize the investigation of criminally-derived assets linked to corrupt actors in East and Central Africa and build networks with affected communities to design asset return strategies.
- Support crucial government agencies to develop a stronger focus on targeting the financial facilitators of atrocities, especially in East and Central Africa, where natural resources and money laundering play a pivotal role in violence.
Click here to read the full report and recommendations.
For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, +1 310-717-0606, [email protected].
ABOUT THE SENTRY
The Sentry is an investigative team co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast that follows the dirty money and builds cases focusing on the war criminals most responsible for Africa’s deadliest conflicts and the corrupt transnational networks that profit from them. The Sentry’s team is composed of financial forensic investigators, international human rights lawyers, regional experts, and former law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, policymakers, investigative journalists, and banking professionals.
The Sentry currently focuses its work on South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic. The Sentry aims to create significant financial consequences for kleptocrats, war criminals, and their international collaborators through network sanctions, anti-money laundering measures, prosecutions, compliance action by banks, and other tools of financial pressure. These measures aim to disrupt the profit incentives for mass atrocities and oppression, and create new leverage in support of peace and human rights. The Sentry and its partner the Enough Project undertake high-level advocacy with policymakers around the world as well as wide-reaching education campaigns by mobilizing students, faith-based groups, celebrities, and others.
Since its launch in 2016, The Sentry has created hard-hitting reports and converted extensive investigative research into a large volume of dossiers on individuals and entities connected to grand corruption, violence, or serious human rights abuses. The investigative team has turned those dossiers over to government regulatory and law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and around the world, as well as to officials at the world’s largest banks through which so much of the dirty money flows.
Learn more at www.TheSentry.org.