News

Mauritius-registered company linked to BRUTAL MILITIAS in the Central African Republic

19/08/2021

INTRODUCTION

“The Sentry” [*] has published an investigative report about:

  • A subsidiary of the multinational conglomerate operating in the Central African Republic (CAR) and
  • It describes how it placed its business interests ahead of the safety of civilians, working with violent armed groups to protect its market shares.

The report says - for almost 20 years, in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR), Castel Group has been operating:

  • Sucrerie Africaine de Centrafrique (African Sugar Refinery of the Central African Republic, or SUCAF RCA)

The Central African Republic (CAR) is a country that is ranked:

  • In the 2020 Human Development Index - 188 out of 189

THE REPORT SAYS

According to The Sentry’s investigation, in late 2014, amid political and security upheaval, SUCAF RCA negotiated a security arrangement with an armed group:

  • The Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, or UPC).

Through a tacit agreement, UPC leaders committed to securing SUCAF RCA’s factory and sugar cane fields and ensuring free movement on key roadways necessary for supplies. SUCAF RCA also secured UPC support in trying to assure the company’s monopoly on sugar distribution in several prefectures, including through the forced seizure of smuggled sugar, mainly from Sudan.

KNOWLEDGE

Reporting by The Sentry shows that the following were regularly informed of the egregious human rights violations committed by the UPC.

  • Castel Group’s subsidiaries,
    • SUCAF RCA
  • Its Paris-based parent company
    • Société d'Organisation de Management et de Développement des Industries Alimentaires et Agricoles (Food and Agricultural Industries Management and Development Company), or
    • SOMDIAA,  and
  • SOMDIAA’s security contractor, retired
    • French General Bruno Dary,

The investigation found that, despite this knowledge,

  • SUCAF RCA management still provided financial and logistical support to criminal groups, primarily but not exclusively the UPC, for more than six years, thus helping to fuel armed conflict in CAR.

MAURITIUS LINK

The CAR subsidiary [SUCAF RCA] also pays royalties to MAKARON Holding, a Mauritius-registered company controlled by SOMDIAA,

  • Which allows SUCAF RCA to sell SOMDIAA’s sugar brand “Princesse Tatie.”

MAKARON Holding provides supplies such as spare parts, packaging, raw materials, and fertilizers to SOMDIAA’s subsidiaries, including SUCAF RCA,

  • Indicating the possible effective control of SOMDIAA and Castel Group over SUCAF RCA’s management.

READ THE REPORT :

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French conglomerate linked to brutal militias in the Central African Republic

“The Sentry”[*] claims the French Sugar and Beverage Giant “Castel Group” [https://www.vins-castel.wine/ ] is funding (or linked to funding) Brutal Militias in the Central African Republic.

Supporting the allegations, “The Sentry” has published an investigative report about:

The Castel Group [CG] is:

  • A family-owned, multibillion-dollar food and beverage empire operating in 50 countries.
  • The third-largest wine producer worldwide,
  • The second-largest brewer in Africa, and
  • A significant bottling partner for Coca-Cola in Africa.

In CAR, CGs subsidiary African Sugar Refinery of the Central African Republic (SUCAF RCA)

  • Made a tacit agreement with the notoriously brutal militia group the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) to maintain its monopoly on the sugar business.

As part of the tacit agreement, which lasted from late 2014 to March 2021, UPC leaders

  • Secured SUCAF RCA’s factory and sugar cane fields,
  • Ensured free movement on critical roadways, and
  • Helped assure the company’s monopoly on sugar distribution in several prefectures, including through the forced seizure of smuggled sugar.

In return, SUCAF RCA

  • Supported the militia through direct and indirect cash payments and
  • In-kind support in the form of vehicle maintenance and fuel provision.

The Sentry’s investigation shows:

  • That this agreement existed despite company officials’ knowledge of the UPC having committed an array of atrocities, including mass killings, abductions, torture, child soldier recruitment, sexual and gender-based violence, and
  • A deadly attack on a camp sheltering 18,000 displaced people.

The United Nations has identified the armed group’s exactions as potential war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In the pursuit of profit, Castel Group’s subsidiaries left Central African civilians vulnerable to a deadly militia and helped fuel armed conflict in CAR.

Not only are the civilians forced to pay for the most expensive sugar in the region, but the money they pay as sugar consumers has helped finance the very criminals and deadly weapons terrorizing and killing them.

The report “Cultivating Atrocities” offers key recommendations for the international community, including launching urgent investigations and designating network sanctions, to hold accountable those potentially complicit in the crimes committed against civilians.

Footnote:

  • The Sentry is an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system.

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