Government has defended the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa over recent media reports alleging that he was involved in a briberly case during his tenure as the President of the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly.
The reports tied Kutesa to an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) involving an official of China Energy Fund Committee (CENF), Dr. Chi Ping Patrick Ho and a former Foreign Minister of Senegal Cheikh Gadio both of whom were recently arrested in New York on allegations of bribery.
It is reported that Sam Kutesa was paid USD 500,000 (Shs 1.8 billion) by the Chinese energy company (CECF) as a bribe to help the firm secure “business advantages” from UN and Uganda’s government.
Kutesa allegedly solicited the payment from Patrick Ho, purportedly for a charitable foundation that he wished to launch and in February 2016, the money was wired to Kutesa’s account through a bank in New York.
The two (Patrick Ho and Cheikh Gadio) who have been charged with criminal bribery and international money laundering are also accused of plotting to bribe Chad President Idriss Deby and Kutesa to secure business deals and rights.
But Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in an official statement issued by the Permanent Secretary Ambassador Patrick Mugoya says that by virtue of Kutesa’s role at the helm of the UN General Assembly necessitated that he engages with organizations to promote the development agenda.
“It is erroneous to insinuate or infer that Hon. Sam Kutesa, from references made to him and CEFC in the said media stories, is linked to the bribery allegations,” the statement by government read in part.
Government says that in order to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted in his term of service, Kutesa had to partner with organizations that enjoyed a consultative status with the U.N.
“One such organization, which was recommended by UN DESA, was the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) which has consultative status with ECOSOC.”
According to the Ministry, China Energy Fund Committee, together with UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) sponsored an initiative in with a USD 1 million grant to fund energy-related sustainable development programs. CECF was represented by Dr. Patrick Ho.
Kutesa had participated as a member of a High-level Steering Committee responsible for the selection of candidates for the UN Energy Grant, says government.
It also clarified that CEFC’s collaboration with the UN took root before Kutesa’s tenure at the helm of the UN General Assembly and that this partnership has continued with successive Presidents.