In a case against a Hong Kong fixer, it comes to light that Museveni was willing to sell Uganda’s interests for a downpayment of US$ 500,000
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
Most of us are still reeling after a New York federal court trial confirmed president Museveni not only as one of the most corrupt leaders around, but also one of the “cheapest” heads of state anywhere in the world today.
Museveni has been badly exposed by the just concluded trial in America of a Hong Kong-based international fixer, Chi Ping Patrick Ho, who has been found guilty of, “participating in a multiyear, multimillion dollar scheme to bribe top officials of Chad and Uganda.”
In a jury trial before U.S. federal judge Loretta A. Preska last week, Ho was found guilty of participating in the bribery scheme “in exchange for business advantages for CEFC China Energy Company Limited (CEFC China)”.
CEFC China was described as a private, Shanghai-based multibillion-dollar conglomerate that operates internationally in multiple sectors, including oil, gas and banking.
The details of the case provide “only a tiny example” of how far mired in the cesspit of corruption the upper echelon of the Museveni government, including him, are. According to the damning indictment, Museveni (whose big, bald and glowering picture was shown on the courtroom screen with the caption in capital letters: “EXHIBIT 1510”) received a bribe amounting to US$ 500,000.
The court heard that “Exhibit 1510” had gotten his bribe in cash, hidden in gift boxes. This, if anyone has seen a crime movie, is the usual way drug dealers or Mafia bosses like to receive their payoff, mostly to avoid money trails that law-enforcement can latch on to identify those involved in international racketeering and illicit money transfers. President Museveni took the bribe in exchange for an agreement to steer business advantages to the Chinese company, says the indictment.
Under normal circumstances, this is a treasonous crime that involves accepting private inducement to shortchange the national interest. Even worse, this is by the very person sworn to be the chief protector of Uganda’s national interests.
“In other words Ugandans are advised that the concessional rights for the country’s oil resources have already been sold away, and one can be sure the main beneficiary in the future will be Museveni and his family,” said a Ugandan policy analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity.
In comparison, when the Chinese tried to bribe the President of Chad, Idriss Deby, he rejected their money out of hand. This is despite the fact, according to the US court, that the Chinese businessman was offering Deby US$ 2 million!
Think about it for just a moment: In addition to promises of future personal and familial advantages, the President of Uganda accepted, in exchange for Ugandans’ interests, one quarter of the sum his Chadian counterpart rejected.
“The Chad Head of State refused to compromise his integrity and sense of honour, even for four times the amount of money,” a disgusted Ugandan political commentator observed. “This is how cheap Museveni is; this is the real Museveni that we have always told the world about,” he added.
But Museveni was not the only beneficiary to this deal that becomes even more rotten the more information becomes public. It began with foreign minister and Museveni brother in-law Sam Kutesa, when Ho met the former in late 2014 in New York City, as Kutesa begun his term as the 69th President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Court heard that Ho met Kutesa and began to cultivate him.
That is when they began to discuss a “strategic partnership” between Uganda and CEFC China for various business ventures, to be formed once Kutesa completed his term as UNGA president and returned to Uganda, reads the indictment.
Back in Uganda where he resumed his duties full-time as foreign minister, Kutesa solicited a payment, purportedly for a charitable foundation that he wished to launch, but which in reality would act as the vehicle for laundering the bribes, he and his boss Museveni had been promised.
Ho gave Kutesa his cut of US$ 500,000, the same as his boss Museveni’s. News of this has prompted some wry jokes in Kampala that, “is this a sign that the Mafia boss has become feeble, if underlings demand and take the same as him?!”
According to such newspapers as The Observer of Kampala, the charity Kutesa said he was forming was “fake”. It was a mere front whose only purpose was for Ho to wire Kutesa’s half million dollars to it, which the Chinese fixer did using a New York bank.
Reading through the indictment, one can already surmise that the scandalous forced sales or closures of Ugandan private banks in the news has roots in the deal between Ho and Museveni/Kutesa. “In exchange for the bribes offered and paid by Ho, Kutesa thereafter steered a bank acquisition opportunity to CEFC China,” reads a paragraph of the indictment.
The bank in question turns out to be Crane Bank, according to The Observer.
Outraged Ugandans all over social media have been wondering what miracle will have to happen for “God to save our country from this rapacious regime”. The rage of Ugandan citizens has been expressed by outspoken Kyadondo East MP and popular musician Robert Kyaguranyi (best known by his stage name of Bobi Wine).
“Mr. President, you have no moral authority to say anything about corruption!” Wine said. “You are not just part of the problem, you are the biggest stumbling block in any effort to rid this country of corruption, patronage and abuse of public funds!”
The MP was responding to purported new measures “to fight corruption” that Museveni announced this Monday, to be overseen from his State House (talk about the proberbial fox guarding the hen-house!)
“Who is Museveni trying to fool with these so-called measures to fight corruption?” asked a Twitter user. “Corruption starts, and circles back to him, please do not feed us your bs!”, he concluded.
To recap: Museveni is not just corrupt; he is prepared to sell his country’s vital resources to foreign interests for a song. That, at any rate, is what the trial in the NY federal court in which Museveni is presented vulgarly as “Exhibit 1510” has just confirmed. May God help Uganda, our beloved Pearl of Africa!