The former Senegalese Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheikh Gadio has been arrested in New York on charges of corruption and bribery. Gadio was arrested on Friday alongside Chi Ping Patrick Ho, Hong Kong’s former Home Secretary, with whom he is accused of issuing bribes to top African government officials.
In an unsealed criminal complaint by U.S. prosecutors, the two are accused of plotting to bribe top African officials, including the President of Chad Idriss Deby and Sam Kutesa, the Ugandan Minister for Foreign Affairs, in exchange for business favors for a Shanghai-based energy and financial company.
The complaint further reveals that the bribery scheme was hatched in October 2014 when the two officials met at the UN in New York, where Kutesa served as president of the United Nations General Assembly between 2014 and 2015. Back then, Gadio owned a consulting firm while HO ran an NGO that was funded by the Shanghai energy firm, according to VOA News.
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Appearing before a federal magistrate on Saturday, the two were charged with international money laundering and criminal bribery in breach of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which prohibits companies from giving bribes to influential foreign officials in exchange for tenders and other business rights.
According to the U.S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco, the bribery scandal involved high-level officials from the two countries, adding that the scheme hurt the U.S. economy and undermined confidence in the free marketplace.
A month after they met, Gadio is alleged to have advised Ho to “reward” President Deby with “a nice financial package” and after two months, Ho guaranteed Mr. Deby a $2 million bribe on behalf of the unidentified Chinese oil company in exchange for lucrative oil rights in Chad.
The $2 million bribe is said to have been delivered to President Deby by Gadio, who also introduced Ho to the Chadian leader. Ho then went on to pay Deby $400,000 for his services through wire transfers sent through New York, according to VOA News.
The complaint further alleges that Ho paid a $500,000 bribe to Mr. Kutesa in exchange for business favors for the Chinese oil company in Uganda, including the acquisition of a Ugandan bank.
The two African leaders were also given several other gifts and promised to get a share of profits generated from the joint ventures between the oil firm and their family businesses.
“They [Gadio and Ho] were allegedly willing to throw money at the leaders of two countries to bypass the normal course of business, but didn’t realize that using the U.S. banking system would be their undoing,” the FBI Assistant Director In Charge William Sweeney of the New York Field office told VOA News.
The government of Senegal is yet to issue an official statement on the arrest of Mr. Gadio.