News from the American criminal courts suggests President Yoweri Museveni and Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa may have received $500 000 bribes respectively from Patrick Ho of China Energy Fund Committee. Patrick Ho was convicted on Wednesday after being been held in American federal custody since November 2017. He was charged with five counts of conspiracy and attempted bribery under the American Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, as well as three counts of money laundering involving separate schemes involving officials in Chad and Uganda.
In Chad, Ho attempted to bribe President Idriss Deby, with $2 million hidden in eight gift boxes in 2014. According to a testimony by former Senegalese Foreign Minister, Cheikh Gadio, Deby said he would not accept the money as he did not want to be seen as corrupt. The parties then agreed to redirect the money and cast it as a donation to the people of Chad, and not a personal gift to the President. The court acquitted Ho on the money laundering charge involving the $2 million but convicted him on every other count surrounding the scheme.
Half of the charges against Ho, however, relate to an oil deal in Uganda. The court heard that Ho offered a donation of $500 000 to Kutesa's foundation (the Food Security and Sustainable Energy Foundation) and an email to Kutesa's wife, Edith makes reference to "mutual agreements and commitments" the donation was subject to. After the "donation" was wired to the foundation, Ho and his delegation received a VIP invitation to the inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni. Photographic evidence of Ho in attendance was adduced in the court. The court also heard that doors started opening for Ho's CEFC in different industries. Another $500 000 was to be brought in cash to Uganda under the guise of supporting Museveni's campaign fund and a memo by Ho to CEFC's chairman said, "It's suggested that it would be best to give it to the President's representative directly in the form of cash." Ho then informed the Ugandans, via email, that he was preparing to bring "nice gifts" to the President and Minister Kutesa.
It should be noted that only evidence of the electronic transfer to Kutesa was provided, Museveni's donation is said to have been in cash. One can, therefore, afford to be skeptical but the conviction undoubtedly creates a storm the President has to face.
Header Image Credit: Court Exhibit