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Theft that landed four Kenyans in Juba prison

By Moses Michira | June 24th 2016

Search for employment in Juba has turned horribly wrong for graphic designer Antony Mwadime and three other Kenyans who might never see home again.

In this part of the ongoing series, The Standard reports how their employer, John Agou, tried to fraudulently withdraw $10 million from an already cash-strapped Bank of South Sudan.

There is little hope of freedom for the four, all aged between 27 and 34, who were paid fairly good salaries and often received 'small' handouts from their bosses of about $100.

Unknown to them, a much bigger fraud involving many senior managers in the president's office was ongoing, according to their former colleague.

It had been an ordinary fraud routine for connected businessmen to siphon millions in dollars from the country's Central Bank using fake documents; supposedly drawn from South Sudan President Salva Kiir's office.

Other unscrupulous businessmen have used the same avenue to steal from the Bank of Southern Sudan (BSS), aside from breakages into cash safes in the President's office.

Dwindling foreign currency reserves in the World's youngest nation had prompted the BSS to advise the Office of the President against requesting for big cash withdrawals.

But Agou, unaware of the communication, presented a payment voucher of $10 million drawn from the Presidency as pay for electronic and stationery supplies.

Before the payment could be processed, the bank sought directions from the drawer of the payment voucher, which would be established as fake.

Close associates have confirmed that it is at this point that Agou was arrested on Wednesday, May 29, 2015.

Upon the arrest, a search of the luxury vehicle he arrived in yielded another 'significant' amount in US dollar notes. Agou was driven to his office-cum-shop at the Airport Business Center in Juba, where Mr Mwadime was at work together with comrades Anthony Kenya, Chuma Boniface and Ravi Ghaghda.

They were rounded up and driven to police custody, where only the administrative assistant who doubled up as the cleaner, a national, survived because he had just walked out of office.

Every property was also picked up. Some would be used as evidence while most assets including 17 Toyota Land Cruiser V8 were seized for possible auction.

Investigations showed that Agou had been transferring huge amounts to an account operated by his wife, Susan, who was also sentenced to life.

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