Man asks court to throw Kutesa out of office, order his prosecution
Brian Atuheire, a private citizen, tells the High Court that the conviction of Patrick Ho in the US, as well as the admission to the nation by President Museveni that Kutesa had indeed received the money, is enough to warrant the Foreign Affairs minister's immediate dismissal from office and commencement of criminal proceedings against him
CORRUPTION | A man has sued embattled Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa. And no, it is not the maverick Male Mabirizi so it is a serious matter.
Citing several reasons tied to the same embarrassing chord related to Patrick Chi-Ping Ho’s bribery scandal involving President Museveni and his brother-in-law Kutesa, Brian Atuheire, a private citizen, wants the High Court to declare the minister unfit to hold a public office and order that he vacates office with immediate effect.
The US Southern District jury earlier this month convicted Ho of offering bribes of $500,000 (about Shs2 billion) each to Kutesa and President Museveni as the former Hong Kong minister sought to gain unfavourable advantage in business in the country.
Investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigations found out that Kutesa’s $500,000 was wired via HSBC bank in Hong Kong via its New York-based subsidiary to an account in Uganda for a fake charity started by Kutesa and his wife Edith Gasana ostensibly to receive the money.
Kutesa is yet to comment or release a statement on the accusations. However, while addressing the nation on December 10, President Museveni was prompted by a journalist to comment on the matter, revealing that he had spoken with Kutesa and that the minister does not deny receiving the money.
“Kutesa told me that the money was for a charity; this is a question of fact. I have told him to be in touch with our Attorney General to cross-check; was this money for the charity or it was for him?” Museveni said.
The FBI report filed as an affidavit before the US court shows that the charity, ‘Ugandan Foundation’, does not exist and that the website opened to run its dubious activity has since been closed.
FBI Special Agent Thomas McNulty told the US jury in the trial of Ho that an agent he dispatched to verify the address provided on the website and headed paper during the bribery correspondence between Edith and Ho reported back that there was no such an organisation as ‘Ugandan Foundation’ in the location detailed.
And now in the miscellaneous application 377 of 2018 that also ties in the Attorney General as a respondent alongside Kutesa, Atuheire wants the court to order the AG, through the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, to commence criminal proceedings against Kutesa.
On October 10, Museveni announced that the government would investigate Kutesa on the matter with Attorney General William Byaruhanga later telling Parliament that his office will have a report on the investigation ready by January.
Why Atuheire is suing
In his sworn affidavit, Atuheire said that the bribe Kutesa received while serving as foreign affairs minister in May 2016 is contrary to Section 2 (a) 5 (a) (iii) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009.
To further support the affidavit, Atuheire said the man at the centre of it all, Patrick Ho, has been found guilty by Judge Lorreta A Preska in the southern district of New York of one count of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), four counts of violating the FCPA, one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering and one count of committing international money bordering.
“President Museveni on December 10 referred to the bribe as a “gift,” which is an acknowledgment of the fact that the money was indeed received in which case Kutesa ought to have declared the gift to the Inspector General of Government,” the affidavit says.
Kutesa’s excuse that the money was a gift donation to his charity open more questions than answers because the Inspectorate of Government said the minister did not declare the “gifts” in accordance with Section 10 of the Leadership Code Act 2002.
Kutesa, who in 1998 resigned from his position of state minister for investment as Parliament prepared to censure him for benefiting from the sale of Uganda Airlines, has been a mixed bag of corruption scandals over the years.
In 2012, he was implicated in receiving kickbacks for oil contracts alongside former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. They were later cleared, just like in 2007 when he was implicated in the supply of bogus vehicles for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala and the advertisement for summit.
Kutesa is President Museveni’s brother-in-law, and that relationship, some critics argue, gives him the blanket to do as he wishes int he corruption arena.