Uganda: Though Absent, Sam Kutesa And Gen. Museveni Center-stage in U.S. Bribe Trial of Hong Kong Fixer

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Sealing the deal with a handshake. Patrick Ho, Gen. Museveni and Kutesa in Uganda 
 
Even though the two won't be in a federal district court in New York on Monday, the trial of a Hong Kong native Chi-ping Patrick Ho, will put on center stage 
Uganda's foreign minister Sam Kutesa and the country's dictator of 32 years Gen. Yoweri Museveni both of whom were paid bribes by Ho, the U.S. alleges.
 
Patrick Ho was arrested in November 2017 around the same time with Senegal's former foreign minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio. The U.S. Justice Department alleged Ho had paid bribes to African leaders to pave the way for illegal-awards of business concessions, including in the oil industry. 
 
Cheikh Gadio, the U.S. alleged, had been paid $400,000 as a go-between for Patrick Ho and a powerful Chinese energy company offering a $2 million payment to Idriss Deby, the president of Chad. Ho once handed Deby a box full of cash, Gadio testified in preliminary proceedings. Separately, the U.S. alleged Ho paid Uganda's Kutesa $500,000, wired to a bank account for a fake charity Kutesa and his wife Edith created for the purpose of receiving the bribe payment.
 
Kutesa also sought $500,000 for the 2016 re-election campaign of Gen. Museveni, the U.S. Justice Department allege and court papers show. Additionally, when officials of the powerful Chinese company, CEFC China Energy Co., together with Patrick Ho attended Museveni's swearing-in at the dictator's invitation, they took "special gifts" for both Museveni and Kutesa. The Chinese officials met top Ugandan government officials in addition to Museveni, the U.S. alleged. Some of the alleged schemes, in addition to oil rights, and the purchase of a Ugandan bank, was to have been joint business ventures between the CEFC and the families of Kutesa and Gen. Museveni, the U.S. alleges. 
 
Kutesa started soliciting the alleged bribes soon after he assumed the post of President of the United Nations General Assembly in 2014, the U.S. alleges. The FBI had monitored both Sam Kutesa and his wife Edith Kutesa's phone calls and e-mail messages while he was still in the United States. An FBI agent also followed the Kutesas to Uganda and determined that the couple did not operate a charity, according to court documents. 
 
The U.S. has dropped charges against Cheikh Gadio, in return for his testimony against Patrick Ho. The U.S. also contends that Ho was involved in weapons sales to South Sudan, Libya and Qatar. Since a U.S.-based bank was used to wire monies Ho is also charged with money-launderig. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts.
 
The Justice Department did not respond to an inquiry from The Black Star News as to whether there are sealed indictments of the Kutesas. Both Kutesa and Gen. Museveni didn't attend this year's United Nations General Assembly meeting in September when heads of state normally address the world body. The Justice Department previously referred a question from The Black Star News whether Kutesa is under a visa restriction to the State Department, which in turn referred this newspaper to the Department of Homeland Security, which did not respond. 
 
Kutesa has notoriously been mired in numerous corruption allegations over several decades including: for unlawfully billing the United Nations $30 million for his company, Entebbe Handling Services (ENHAS), for a contract he was awarded without disclosing his ownership stake to the U.N.; for allegedly receiving millions of dollars in bribe payment from Tullow oilfor allegedly embezzling millions from monies designated for hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Uganda; and, for stripping the productive assets of Uganda Airlines and running the state carrier to the ground when he formed ENHAS. 
 
The U.N. previously didn't respond to an inquiry about whether it was seeking to recover the $30 million; the U.S. contributes about 22% of the U.N.'s budget which is about $5.4 billion. 
 
Separately, the U.K. previously considered a visa ban on Kutesa in connection to the alleged CHOGM embezzlement and wanted the U.S. to reciprocate, according to a 2010 cable by Jerry Lanier, then U.S. ambassador to Uganda.
 
Kutesa's daughter is married to Gen. Museveni's son, Gen. Muhoozi Kaenerugaba, and he's untouchable in Uganda; sham court cases against him there always evaporate. 
 
Barring a last-minute guilty plea by Patrick Ho, the trial is scheduled to begin before District Judge Loretta Preska on Monday, November 26, at 10 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. 
 

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