KAMPALA–Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa has been linked to a multi-million dollar scheme bribe allegation by US security agents in exchange for business advantages for a Chinese oil and gas company.
Kutesa is being implicated alongside Chadian officials, according to Federal Bureau of Investigations.
FBI accuses Chi Ping Patrick Ho, a wealthy Chinese businessman of participating in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar scheme to bribe high levels officials in Chad and minister Kutesa in exchange for business advantages for a Chinese oil and gas company.
Other USA security agents involved in probing the bribe allegations include Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations.
Former Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Gadio was arrested in New York last Friday and presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Nathaniel Fox while Ho was apprehended a day later and arraigned before Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck.
The duo was charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international money laundering and conspiracy before being detained in U.S, according to a statement issued on Monday night.
Appearing before court, the Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in an international corruption scheme that spanned the globe, Chi Ping Patrick Ho and Gadio allegedly conspired to bribe African government officials on behalf of a Chinese energy conglomerate.
“Wiring almost a million dollars through New York’s banking system in furtherance of their corrupt schemes, the defendants allegedly sought to generate business through bribes paid to the President of Chad and minister Kutesa,” the US Attorney stated.
As alleged, the US Attorney alleged that Chiping Ugandan scheme was hatched in the halls of the United Nations in New York, when the country’s current Foreign minister served as the President of the UN General Assembly and then continued unabated upon his return to Uganda.
“International bribery not only harms legitimate businesses and fair competition, but it also destroys public faith in the integrity of government. And when this type of international corruption and bribery touches our shores and our financial system, as the alleged schemes did, federal criminal charges in an American court may very well be the end result,” Kim said.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco said the Criminal Division is committed to investigating and prosecuting corrupt individuals who put at risk a level playing field for corporate competitiveness, regardless of where they live or work.
“Their bribes and corrupt acts hurt our economy and undermine confidence in the free marketplace,” he explained.
HSI Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez said the individuals allegedly offered millions of dollars in bribes to foreign officials, disguised as charitable donations in order to seek business advantages.
Chad scheme plot
As alleged in the Complaint, the Chad Scheme began in or about October 2014, when Chiping and Gadio met at the UN in New York, New York.
At that time, the Energy Company wanted to expand its oil operations to Chad, and to do so, it wanted to enter into a joint venture with a Chinese government-owned oil and gas company (the “Chinese State Oil Company”) that was already operating in Chad.
Earlier that year, the Chinese State Oil Company had been fined $1.2 billion by the government of Chad for environmental violations. Chiping enlisted Gadio – who had a personal relationship with the President of Chad – to assist the Energy Company in gaining access to the President of Chad, with the initial goal of resolving the dispute between the government of Chad and the Chinese State Oil Company, and the ultimate goal of obtaining oil opportunities for the Energy Company in Chad.
Gadio successfully connected Chiping and the Energy Company to the President of Chad and to other Chadian officials. Chiping , acting on Gadio’s advice, then caused the Energy Company to pledge a $2 million bribe to the President of Chad, in what was characterized as a “donation” for charitable causes. Gadio later solicited from chiping a $500,000 payment for Gadio’s firm, arguing that he should receive a percentage of the $2 million “gift” from the Energy Company to the President of Chad.
In reality, this “donation” was a bribe intended to influence the award of oil rights in favor of the Energy Company.