By our reporter
United Nations, where Sam Kuteesa was privileged to serve as President General of the Assembly, has commented on the bribery claims before a US court that Uganda’s minister of foreign affairs while serving as president general was involved in corruption act as part of his work.
The UN however says it expects president generals to be beyond reproach.
Speaking to Blackstarnews, Farhan Haq, a spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said in an e-mail, “Regarding the U.S. Justice Department allegations against Mr. Kutesa, we believe it is appropriate for the Government of Uganda to respond. During his time as President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa remained his country’s foreign minister and was not a staff member of the United Nations.
Farhan Haq added, “For our part, we expect all those who hold the office of the President of the General Assembly to uphold the highest standards of transparency and ethics.”
Mr Kuteesa made a statement through Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that he made business, visits and met suspicious individuals while fulfilling his role as President of the General Assembly.
Patrick Mugoya, the permanent secretary of the ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote, “In the course of his work as President of the General Assembly (PGA) of the United Nations during its 69th Session in 2014 – 2015, Hon. Sam Kutesa interacted and engaged with numerous organizations including, civil society, media and private sector. This engagement, a role undertaken by all the Presidents of the General Assembly, is necessary for promoting the core objectives of the UN in the areas of development, peace and security as well as human rights.”
He added, “It is therefore erroneous to insinuate or infer that Hon. Sam Kutesa, from references made to him and CEFC in the said media stories, is linked to the bribery allegations.”
A court case where Kuteesa’s associates have been arrested has been filed in the New York court and the foreign affairs minister could be issued a warrant of arrest under US laws after he allegedly solicited and received a $500,000 bribe.
The alleged bribe, according to the affidavit, was wired to Kuteesa by Chinese businessman Chi Ping Patrick Ho, on behalf of CEFC China Energy Co.
Working with Cheihk Tidiane Gadio, Senegal’s former foreign minister who acted as a go-between, Mr Ho also offered $2 million for President Deby. Gadio was paid $400,000 the U.S., alleges.
Gadio was arrested last Friday and Ho the following day and were both charged with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the alleged bribe payments, international money laundering, and conspiracy to commit both.
The bribe, according to the indictment unsealed last Monday, sought non-competitive concessions in the oil and finance industry in Africa by a Chinese oil company.
Kuteesa was between 2014 and 2015 President General of the UN Assembly. In his term, he traveled to China in August, 2015, and during the trip solicited $500,000 for what U.S. prosecutors claim was a non-existent foundation and $500,000 allegedly to fund presidential elections in Uganda.
“In fact, this payment was a bribe to obtain business advantages for the Energy Company in its efforts to secure contracts and ventures in Uganda’s financial and energy sectors,” US Justice department states.
HO promised promised future benefits, including proposing to partner with family businesses in potential joint ventures. In exchange, Mr Kuteesa would assist the Energy Company to obtain business in Uganda, including facilitating the Energy Company’s interest in potentially acquiring a bank.” This bank has been understood to be Crane Bank which was closed later. This website has not established a connection between Kuteesa’s promise to Mr Ho and the closure of Crane Bank by the central bank.
The $500,000 bribe was wired on May 6, 2016, after Kutesa’s term expired and he’d returned to Uganda and resumed his post as foreign minister. Kutesa and his wife Edith disguised the bribe payment as a donation to their family foundation called the Ugandan Foundation, prosecutors allege. When anFBI agent went to the street address provided as headquarters on a foundation letterhead, in Kampala, he discovered that no such charity existed at the location.