Kampala — Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa has been named in US court documents as having allegedly received a $500, 000 (about Shs1.8 billion) bribe help a Chinese company obtain business advantages including acquisition of a Ugandan bank.
Relatedly, President Museveni received gifts in exchange for business advantages for a Chinese oil and gas company.
According to a November 20 statement by Mr Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Kenneth A. Blanco, Chi Ping Patrick Ho, aka Patrick C.P. Ho and Cheikh Gadio, Senegal's former Foreign Minister, allegedly paid out the bribe.
Ho heads a non-government organisation based in Hong Kong.
"... HO caused a $500,000 bribe to be paid, via wires transmitted through New York, New York, to an account designated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, who had recently completed his term as the President of the UN General Assembly (the "Ugandan Foreign Minister")," the statements presented to the reads in part.
"HO also provided the Ugandan Foreign Minister, as well as the President of Uganda, with gifts and promises of future benefits, including offering to share the profits of a potential joint venture in Uganda involving the Energy Company and businesses owned by the families of the Ugandan Foreign Minister and the President of Uganda."
It adds that the payments and promises were made in exchange for assistance from the Ugandan Foreign Minister in obtaining business advantages for the Energy Company, including the potential acquisition of a Ugandan bank.
According to the statement, the defendants allegedly sought to generate business through bribes paid to the President of Chad and the Ugandan Foreign Minister.
Ho's Ugandan scheme was allegedly hatched in the halls of the United Nations in New York, when Mr Kutesa served as the President of the U.N. General Assembly.
The scheme continued "unabated upon his return to Uganda," according to the statement.
International bribery not only harms legitimate businesses and fair competition, but it also destroys public faith in the integrity of government.
Ho is in in US custody, having been arrested on Saturday afternoon.
On Monday, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck who ordered his detention.
The US picked interest in the matter because, according to the acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim, "... 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".
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco said the Criminal Division would investigate and prosecute 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," Blanco said.
The charges and the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the statement adds.