Ardol, Sudanese Mineral Resources Company: How fragile is the system of ruling in Sudan?
Leaked documents and correspondences surfaced all over social media last week, revealing that the head of the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company (SMRC), Mubarak Ardol, demanded a number of enterprises involved in the mining industry to donate what had been reported as “billions” in Sudanese pounds to Minni Arko Minawi’s inauguration ceremony as the Governor of Darfur.
AlTaghyeer: Elfadil Ibrahim
Minni Arko Minawi, who was installed in his position last week, distanced himself from the news by repudiating the donations and saying that he had nothing to do with them.
Ardol assured that the donations were not binding, and were not meant for the inauguration ceremony, but rather for the Darfur Development Fund, and as funds to help dig 30 wells in the area.
Meeting with the Prime Minister
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok had met with the Director of the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company, and Ardol confirmed that, during the meeting, the Prime Minister had requested of him to mobilize resources in support of Darfur’s regional government.
The head of the SMC pointed out that the company has had similar experiences in eastern Sudan where funds were used to support the army and mitigate the effects of rainfall in the both the Northern and the Nile River states.
The story however, does not end here.
A youth group had submitted a legal petition to the Anti-Corruption and Public Fund Crimes Prosecution, which accused both the director of the SMRC and the company’s community administration official of corruption, noting that there had been unreported past instances of this kind perpetrated by others, and encouraged the entirety of Sudan to support their petition.
The head of the Sudanese Transparency Organization, al-Tayeb Mukhtar, says that generally, any fiscal measures carried bout government institution exceeding common procedures are considered corrupt in nature.
Absence of a General Reference
Mukhtar also referred to the absence of the role of the auditor general, and noted that, for that past three years, “we [Sudanese Transparency Organization] have not seen the impact of the general auditor’s reports, and this encourages corruption and opens the door to abuse,” indicating that standards, in terms of accounting and finance, must always be present.
“What happened regarding the issue of donations for the inauguration of the governor of Darfur confirms that what is hidden is greater in the absence of the authorities responsible for accountability,” he said.
The head of the STO stressed that “no one is too big for accountability”, and dismissal in such cases is “not the solution”, referring to the importance of reviewing social responsibility funds and their relationship with the company away from the Ministry of Finance and the competent authorities.
In addition, Mukthar believes that the laws governing corporate social responsibility and its relationship with the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company must also come under scrutiny.
He stressed that the Council of Ministers should not interfere, and that a board of inquiry should investigate the incident if suspicions were to be raised to the prosecution, pointing out that social responsibility money is public money and is not a permissible expenditure except according to the terms of exchange governed by the law.
“The people’s money cannot be given to politicians; it is supposed to go towards services.”
“If there is no investigation or dismissal decision, this encourages corruption and the consumption of public money.”
The researcher specialized in administrative affairs, Ahmed Salem, says that the meeting that took place between the Prime Minister, three of his ministers (Finance, Minerals and the presidency of the Council of Ministers) and the director of the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company, Mubarak Ardol, is “procedurally defected”, with the issue being a legal and administrative issue, and the meeting having took place without a letter of formation and without specified terms of reference.
A Reduced Sentence
Salem added to AlTaghyeer that “the meeting’s conclusion saw Ardol being directed to return the total amount donated from the mining companies and obliged not to repeat this, even though Ardol acknowledged what had been reported several times, and despite that, the Council of Ministers, in an administrative aspect, classified what Ardol had did as drawing attention.”
The administrative affairs researcher said that this classification incurs the lightest type of penalties in the list of employee penalties, while Ardol’s violation, which had bypassed the financial regulations and systems of the Financial and Accounting Procedures Law, and that, above being an administrative violation is also a financial violation, was much larger than that.
Salem describes “Ardol’s precedent” as very close to the trial of ousted president Omar al-Bashir in which he was given two years imprisonment for keeping sums of money outside the scope of public money monitoring, in a clear violation of the State’s Financial and Accounting Procedures Law.
Therefore accordingly, to Salem, the proper administrative procedure was not to hold a meeting with Ardol and the summit of the executive body and the ministers, but rather interrogate him with an official letter from the authority to which he administratively reports and based on the written interrogation’s response, an accounting board is formed for the Accounting Council to study the case, interrogate Ardol, and take its decision, and then raise the decision to the competent authority for approval.
Administrative Weakness Encourages Corruption
The researcher believes that the Accounting Council has the right to decide to draw the employee’s attention to the matter, reprimand him/her, deduct what it deems appropriate from their monthly salary, suspend them from work for a specified period, or permanently dismiss them from service.
He emphasizes that it is known that the administrative penalty does not absolve the employee from legal accountability, and in some cases legal conviction can act a reason to dismiss the employee from the service administratively, particularly in financial and moral matters.
Salem also believes that “in general, what took place between Ardol and the top executive body is against administrative systems and procedures, and there is a great deal of favoritism and courtesy that indicates weakness at the top of the state’s administrative and executive body, which encourages the weak souls to bypass the regulations and financial systems in place, and then comes the waste of public money and the spread of corruption.”
Inauguration Committee Clarifies
A member of the Higher Committee for the Inauguration of the Governor of Darfur, Muhammad Zakaria, in a brief statement made to AlTaghyeer, said that the aforementioned funds do not belong to the committee, indicating that the budget allocated for the reception of the Governor of Darfur was separate.
He pointed out that the Darfur region is suffering, and indicated that the celebration comes from the gains of the Juba peace agreement and in honor of peace.
Petition in the Prosecution
Moataz al-Jaali, one of the lawyers who filed a petition with the prosecution against the director of the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company, told AlTaghyeer that any citizen has the right to open and file criminal cases/complaints against anyone who violates the Financial and Accounting Procedures Law, or is suspected of corruption.
He added that he does not know Ardol personally and does not hold grudges against him, and that what prompted him to do so was to help preserve public money, in status, as a public right.
Al-Jaali explained that he and two others had filed an indictment against Ardol for violating the Financial and Accounting Procedures Law for the year 2007, revealing the desire of many to join in filing, while pointing out that the indictment is currently restricted under Article (47) preliminary investigations.
He stressed that they are waiting for the prosecution’s decision regarding the filed case. If accepted, they will continue with the necessary procedures, but if rejected, then they will have consider the reasons for the rejection, and only then will they be able to decide to escalate or be satisfied with the verdict.
Social Responsibility the Right Way
According to the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company Bulletin, corporate social responsibility in the field of mining is on the right track, attributing this to the successful understanding of the subject’s social, political and ethical implications.
The company confirmed that the moral commitment of companies towards society has increased significantly during the last period, especially with the aspired social responsibility being in line with the vision of the Ministry of Minerals, and the Sudanese Mineral Resources Company 2030, as a continuous commitment.