Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has asked MPs seeking the investigation Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa over bribery allegations, to refer the matter to the Financial Intelligence Authority.
Members of Parliament, led by Ntungamo Municipality MP, Gerald Karuhanga on Tuesday tasked Minister Sam Kutesa to explain to the nation through Parliament the alleged bribery scandal in which he was named. Kutesa is said to have received half a million U.S dollars during his tenure as the President of the UN General Assembly, in exchange for helping a Chinese energy company get lucrative investment opportunities in Uganda.
The case which was investigated and publicized by the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is currently before court in New York.
Two businessmen were tried and charged in New York for paying millions of U.S dollars in bribes to secure business deals in Uganda and Chad on behalf of a Shanghai-based multi-billion-dollar conglomerate which needed to gain business advantages in Africa.
The two; Dr Chi Ping Patrick Ho, 68, and Cheikh Gadio, the former Foreign Minister of Senegal were charged with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international money laundering and conspiracy to commit both.
Kutesa reportedly received a USD 500,000 (Shs 1.8 billion) as a bribe from Ho, one of the accused persons, via wires transmitted through New York to his account in Uganda. U.S federal prosecutors said that the bribe paid to Kutesa sometime in May 2016, was meant to secure business advantages for the company, and potential acquisition of a Ugandan bank.
Ho reportedly wanted Kutesa to connect the said energy company to President Yoweri Museveni and subsequently assist the company to obtain lucrative opportunities in Uganda’s energy sector.
Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga today asked Parliament to call for investigations into the matter, but Speaker Kadaga says she does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed in the United States.
She instead asked the MPs to refer the matter to the Financial Intelligence Authority which is mandated to investigate crimes related to money.
Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo insisted that Parliament takes the matter of involvement of a Minister in corruption seriously instead of just ruling it out. He says it is not only the Minister’s name being tarnished, but Uganda’s as well.
Karuhanga on his part said Parliament should probe further into allegations adding that it is a shame to have Uganda’s top Ambassador involved in fraud.
He asked that Kutesa steps aside to ensure free and fair investigations into the matter.
“It would be prudent to allow an impartial free and fair investigation without any influence by the Hon. Sam Kutesa using his position as Minister to curtail any effective investigation. That’s why the proposed investigation was to allow a free and fair process so he does not use his office to carry out bribery,” Karuhanga noted.