Uganda's Kutesa Says He Hasn't Been Contacted By U.S. Attorney Bharara In Ongoing U.S. Bribe Investigation

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Kutesa, right, meets in his PGA office in May with Chinese businessman Ruiyun Wang, Chief Strategic Officer for Synertone Communication Corporation, Liangbin Xia, Secretary General of the STEM Education Foundation, and Ms. Sheri Yan, CEO of GSF Photo/Martin Dixon

Uganda's foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa and his wife Edith Kutesa have not been contacted by the US Attorney who is investigating the alleged scheme in which Chinese businessmen bribed John Ashe a former President of the UN General Assembly millions of dollars, according to a statement released on behalf of the couple.

One of the suspects arrested in the alleged scheme in which Ashe was paid $1.3 million is Sheri Yan, Chair of a New York-based non governmental organization (NGO) called Global Sustainability Foundation (GSF). The U.S. alleges that the NGO was used as a conduit to conceal the bribe payments to Ashe.

Edith Kutesa, wife of Sam Kutesa, is the Vice Chair of (GSF).

Additionally, Sheri Yan earlier this year introduced Mr. Kutesa to a Chinese businessman who later installed a satellite video educational program in Uganda, according to a press release by the businessman's company.

Following inquiries from The Black Star News to Mr. Kutesa via phone call and e-mail messages to Uganda's Permanent Mission to the United Nations and to the foreign ministry, the country's UN ambassador Dr. Andrew Nduhuura released a brief statement via e-mail message that reads:  "This is to inform that Hon Kutesa and Mrs Kutesa have not been contacted by US Attorney Mr Bharara's office."

A spokesperson for Preet Bharara the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District declined to comment on whether the Kutesas are targeted in the ongoing investigation.

Kutesa's term ended in September as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr. Ashe, Kutesa's immediate predecessor as PGA is charged with accepting the $1.3 million to promote the business interests of the wealthy Chinese individuals with the United Nations and with Caribbean leaders. One of the businessmen, Ng Lap Seng, a billionaire wanted U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's endorsement to build a multi-billion dollar convention center in Macau, the U.S. alleges.

In addition to the $1.3 million, Ashe allegedly received millions more. He opened two business accounts with two major American banks in which he received $3 million between 2012 and 2014. The accounts were opened as "John Ashe dba John Ashe PGA 68"  and "Office of the President of the General Assembly PGA 68 Operating Account".  

The U.S. alleges that Ashe was the only signatory and wrote checks to himself for personal use. He also allegedly withdrew $1 million from the accounts and deposited the money into an account belonging to him and his wife Anilla Cherian.

From July 30 to August 2, before his term expired, Mr. Kutesa visited China in his official capacity as President of the United Nations General Assembly with Sheri Yan. The individuals he met with during his visit included  Ruiyun Wang, the Chief Strategic Officer for Synertone Communication Corporation, who later went to Uganda, according to a press release.

Sheri Yan had introduced Mr. Wang to Kutesa earlier in the year, during a meeting at his PGA office at UN headquarters, on May 6. Also attending that meeting was Liangbin Xia, Secretary General of the STEM Education Foundation, according to information on the PGA's website.

Synertone designs technology that allows live streaming of educational materials to remote villages, according to the company. Mr. Kutesa agreed to promote the technology in Uganda and in Africa generally, according to the release. He invited the company for a pilot program in August in Uganda, according to the company's press release.

Mr. Wang visited Uganda and on August 23, his company installed the technical equipment and Mr. Kutesa "officially inaugurated Kawanda’s China-Uganda Friendship school..." described as "Africa’s first school in using satellites network to provide quality education to undeserved communities."

Mrs. Kutesa also met Mr. Wang separately on June 24, when she visited China and was officially installed as Vice Chair of GSF, according to a company press release.

Sheri Yan in the past also arranged trips for John Ashe to China to meet with businessmen. Ashe demanded $200,000 in 2013 and another $200,000 in 2014 to make those trips, according to the U.S. Attorney's charges.

When asked about the official purpose of Mr. Kutesa's trip to China before his term expired, Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said:  "You'll need to ask the Government of Uganda for the details."

 

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