AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
LONDON: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir siphoned off nine billion dollars of oil money into British bank accounts, according to US diplomatic cables revealed by WikiLeaks on Saturday.
A senior official in Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) denied the claim.
The document quotes the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as saying US officials should go public with the allegations about Bashir in order to turn Sudanese public opinion against him.
It said the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told US officials that the figure allegedly put away by Bashir was possibly nine billion dollars and “would change Sudanese public opinion from him being a ‘crusader’ to that of a thief.”
The document was released by the whistleblowing website a day after its founder Julian Assange was released on bail in Britain over allegations of sex crimes in Sweden. It said Britain’s Lloyds Banking Group “may be holding or knowledgeable of the whereabouts of his money”.
Lloyds insisted it was not aware of any link with Bashir. “We have absolutely no evidence to suggest there is any connection between Lloyds Banking Group and Bashir,” a spokeswoman said.
“The group’s policy is to abide by the legal and regulatory obligations in all jurisdictions in which we operate.” Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based court to face charges of genocide and war crimes in Sudan’s western province of Darfur. He is subject to two arrest warrants issued by the ICC for atrocities committed in Darfur.
The court’s first-ever warrant against a sitting head of state was issued against Bashir in March 2009 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The second was issued in July 2010 on charges of genocide.