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Oil: Kutesa was paid $500,000 bribe - US prosecutors

Uganda Foreign Affairs minister, Sam Kutesa was paid a $500,000 (about Shs 1.8 billion) bribe in exchange for obtaining "business advantages" for a Chinese energy company while he served as president of the U.N. General Assembly from 2014 to 2015.

According to criminal complaints brought against two former ministers of Hong Kong and Senegal who have been arrested in New York, Chi Ping Patrick Ho, Hong Kong’s former Home Secretary, and Cheikh Gadio, a one-time foreign minister of Senegal, plotted to bribe Idriss Deby, the long-time president of oil-rich Chad and Kutesa to secure business deals and rights for a Shanghai-based energy and financial conglomerate.

The bribery scheme was hatched in the halls of the United Nations in New York and spanned several continents. Kutesa was also allegedly used to extend gifts and promises of future benefits to President Yoweri Museveni, including offering to share the profits of a potential joint venture in Uganda involving the Energy Company and businesses owned by the families of the Ugandan Foreign Minister and the President of Uganda.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed by U.S. prosecutors on Monday, Ho and Gadio engaged in a multi-year scheme to bribe Deby and Kutesa in exchange for "business advantages" for the energy company, a multibillion-dollar Chinese company that operates in the oil-and-gas and financial sectors.

Sam Kutesa allegedly received the $500,000 bribe while he serving as president of the U.N. General Assembly

Ho was arrested Saturday afternoon and appeared before a federal magistrate Monday, the Justice Department announced Monday. Gadio, who served as foreign minister of Senegal from 2002 to 2009, was arrested in New York on Friday afternoon and presented to a federal magistrate Saturday. Both remain in federal custody.

The two men are charged with criminal bribery in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and international money laundering. The FCPA bars companies from bribing foreign officials to gain a business advantage. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco said the scheme "involved bribes at the highest levels of two nations."

"Their bribes and corrupt acts hurt our economy and undermine confidence in the free marketplace," Blanco said in a statement.

According to the complaint, Ho and Gadio began plotting in 2014 when they met at the United Nations in New York. At the time, Gadio ran a consulting firm while Ho headed a non-profit that received funding by the energy company.

The criminal complaint does not name the non-profit or the Chinese company behind it. But a small outfit named China Energy Fund Committee fits the NGO's description in the complaint.

On its website, CEFC describes itself as an NGO and "high end strategic think tank" and lists Dr. Patrick Chi Ping Ho as its deputy chairman and secretary general.

The non-profit says it is registered in Hong Kong and Virginia and is supported by "a special private grant fully sponsored by China Energy Fund Co. Ltd."

CEFC China Energy Company Limited is "a private collective enterprise with energy and financial serves as its core business," according to its website. The Shanghai- based company had revenue of $34 million (263 billion Chinese yuan) in 2015.

On October 19, 2014, Ho met Kutesa at the United Nations. Kutesa had just begun his one-year term as president of the United Nations General Assembly.

A month later, Gadio allegedly advised Ho to "reward" the Chadian president with "a nice financial package."

Two months later, Ho pledged a $2 million bribe to Deby on behalf of the energy company in exchange for obtaining lucrative oil rights from the Chadian government.

In exchange, Deby is alleged to have provided the energy company with "an exclusive" opportunity to obtain particular oil rights in Chad without facing international competition, according to the criminal complaint.

Gadio is alleged to have connected Ho with Deby and conveyed the $2 million bribe offer to Deby. Ho is alleged to have paid Deby $400,000 for his services via wire transfers transmitted through New York.

In addition, the criminal complaint alleges, Ho paid a $500,000 bribe to Kutesa, the Ugandan foreign minister, in exchange for obtaining "business advantages" for the energy company, including the potential acquisition of a Ugandan bank.

According to the complaint, Kutesa solicited the payment from Ho, purportedly for a charitable foundation that he wished to launch. In around February 2016, the money was then wired to Kutesa's account through a bank in New York. In his communications, Ho variously referred to this payment as a “donation” to the reelection campaign of the President of Uganda (who'd already been reelected).

Chad’s president and Uganda’s foreign minister were also offered gifts and promises of future benefits, including a share of profits generated by joint ventures between the energy company and businesses owned by the families of the foreign minister of Uganda and president of Chad, according to the criminal complaint.

FBI Assistant Director In Charge William Sweeney of the New York Field Office said Ho and Gadio "were allegedly willing to throw money at the leaders of two countries to bypass the normal course of business, but didn't realize that using the U.S. banking system would be their undoing."

Chad and Uganda are ranked the 15th and 25th most corrupt countries in the world, according to Transparency International's 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index.

The embassy of Chad in Washington and Uganda’s mission to the United Nations in New York did not respond to requests for comment.

Comments   

0 #21 sn 2017-11-23 10:38
For all Museveni's wit and cunning he should never have sent Kuteesa to UN.

And yet conventional wisdom prevailed on him to explore new possibilities never before possible. This was an area that did not warrant political analysis and advice.

Fortunately for Uganda, this is one area where SFG can't help. No room for guns, no room for violence, even no room for bribery.

Hopefully this could be the beginning of the end for the whole pack. This has the potential to break the firm grip on Ugandans by Rwanda. As events unfold we could see the crumbling of the empire.

It has been well stated that action speaks louder than words. The simple humble action of receiving US$ 500,000 bribe seems to be speaking much louder than censorship in parliament and all allegations of corruption in CHOGM and other scandals. Once a liar, always a liar, once a thief always a thief.
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0 #22 Frankie Leung 2017-11-24 07:27
A Hong Kong person Dr. Patrick Ho was involved in giving away the money.
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