London, Dec 18 (ANI): Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir had transferred at least nine billion dollars of oil money from his country to banks in London, according to secret US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website 'Wikileaks'.
The Guardian quoted prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo as telling the US officials that some of the funds might be held by the part-nationalised Lloyds Banking Group, and that the citizens of Sudan, which ranks fifteenth from bottom in the UN's index of the world's poorest countries, must be made aware of Bashir's theft in order to turn their opinion against him.
"Ocampo suggested if Bashir's stash of money were disclosed (he put the figure at $9bn), it would change Sudanese public opinion from him being a 'crusader' to that of a thief," the cable said.
"Ocampo reported Lloyds bank in London may be holding or knowledgeable of the whereabouts of his money," and also suggested "exposing Bashir had illegal accounts would be enough to turn the Sudanese against him," it added.
If Ocampo's claim about Bashir's fortune is correct, Sudanese funds being held in London banks amount to one tenth of annual GDP in Sudan, the paper said.
However, Lloyds responded by saying there is no evidence to suggest there is any connection between Lloyds Banking Group and Bashir.
Bashir was accused of seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity last year with a further three counts of genocide in July.
Ocampo, who has never released details of the alleged funds, was severely criticised for the indictment by many in Sudan and internationally amid criticisms the move would inflame fighting in the southern Darfur region. (ANI)