Tuesday, October 18, 2016

EDITH KUTESA, WIFE OF UGANDA FOREIGN MINISTER, ON BOARD OF COMPANY WHOSE CHAIR ARRESTED IN US ALLEGED $1.3M BRIBE SCHEME

EDITH KUTESA, WIFE OF UGANDA FOREIGN MINISTER, ON BOARD OF COMPANY WHOSE CHAIR ARRESTED IN US ALLEGED $1.3M BRIBE SCHEME

Sam Kutesa, flanked by his wife Edith on his right and by Ms. Yan, Chair of GSF on his left during his China trip.
Sam Kutesa, whose term as president of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA) just ended in September met earlier this year with an associate of the Chinese billionaire arrested by US authorities and charged with bribing Kutesa's predecessor John Ashe with payments totaling $1.3 million to advance development schemes.
Additionally Mr. Kutesa's wife Edith Kutesa is listed as Vice Chairman of Global Sustainability Foundation (GSF) one of the New York-based NGOs the U.S. alleges was used to conceal the multi-million dollars bribe-scheme.
Shery Yan, the foundation's Chair, is an associate of the Chinese billionaire, Ng Lap Seng, and has been arrested in connection with facilitating the payments to Mr. Ashe.

Ng himself is also under arrest; in addition to the bribe scheme he's alleged to have lied to Customs about the purpose of the $4.5 million in cash that he and an associate brought into the US between 2013 and 2015.

A spokesperson for Preete Bharara the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York today declined to comment on whether other officials of GSF, including Mrs. Kutesa, were targets of the ongoing investigation.

Bharara on Tuesday said: "We will be asking, is bribery business as usual at the UN?"

Ashe, who has been arrested and charged by US authorities in connection with the alleged bribery scheme, is also listed on GSF's website as one of the "founding supporting organization's leaders". He was also until last year Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the UN. Ashe's wife also was made a “climate change consultant” and paid $2,500 per month, the US alleged.
Farhan Haq a deputy spokesperson for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said "There is nothing we have to say specifically about [Edith] Kutesa, who does not work for the UN."

Mr. Haq also didn't comment on the nature of and purpose of Mr. Kutesa's meeting in China this year with Ms. Yan during an official trip before his term expired as president of the UN General Assembly.

The Black Star News was not able to get responses from Mr. Kutesa, who is Uganda's foreign affairs minister, and Mrs. Kutesa, to questions about GSF and the trip to China, sent via email message to Uganda's Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and to the ministry of foreign affairs in Kampala.

On the GSF website Mrs. Kutesa's bio reads, "Ms. Edith Gasana Kutesa is an economist, with an outstanding professional career in local and international economic and financial development. The highlights of her professional career include her debut at the European Union Commission that she left with the grade of an Expert and the United Nations Development Programme where she occupied senior leadership positions. She left these organisations in 1994, to contribute to the reconstruction efforts after the genocide in Rwanda, her country of origin. Mrs Kutesa has been successively Chief of Staff in the Ministry of Planning, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and Managing Director of the Development Bank of Rwanda."

A phone message left for Dr. Richard Nduhuura Uganda's Permanent Representative to the UN also wasn't returned; an email message to GSF seeking Comment also wasn't returned.

Also arrested and charged in the alleged bribery scheme are: Francis Lorenzo, the deputy Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the UN, who was an alleged go-between for Messrs Ng and Ashe; and, Jeff C. Yin, an assistant to Mr. Ng.

Mr. Ng allegedly paid Ashe $500,000 in bribes to get the then PGA to convince UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to endorse his plan to build a UN affiliated convention center in Macau.

Ng also allegedly wanted favors from Caribbean leaders in connection with UN related projects and paid Ashe $800,00; Ashe allegedly gave $100,000 to then Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Baldwin Spencer.

Separately, Kutesa himself has profited handsomely from the United Nations.

Between 2008 and 2013 his private company Entebbe Handling Services  (ENHAS) billed the UN atleast $29.2 million. The UN hasn't responded to several inquiries from The Black Star News about possible fraud and conflict of interest in awarding a multi-million dollar contract to a company owned by a sitting foreign minister; the U.S. Attorney also declined to comment on whether its probe of the UN covers the ENHAS contracts.
Last year a spokesperson said the UN had no contracts with ENHAS before The Black Star Newsdiscovered millions of dollars worth of ENHAS invoices on its website. The UN subsequently wiped out the pages.