The United States of America has sent a strong warning to corrupt African political office holders.
US said those who enrich themselves at the expense of their poor people would no longer go scot-free.
The warning was given by US Department of Justice after a New York court after it jailed Mahmoud Thiam.
Thiam, a former Minister of Mines and Geology of Guinea, was jailed seven years for laundering bribes paid to him by executives of China Sonangol International Ltd. (China Sonangol) and China International Fund, SA (CIF).
Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco of the Department of Justice Criminal Division said in a statement that the sentence sends a strong message to corrupt individuals like Thiam.
“Mahmoud Thiam engaged in a corrupt scheme to benefit himself at the expense of the people of Guinea,” said Blanco.
“Corruption is a cancer on society that destabilises institutions, inhibits fair and free competition, and imposes significant burdens on ordinary law-abiding people just trying to live their everyday lives.
“Today’s sentence shows that if you send your crime proceeds to New York, whether from drug dealing, tax evasion or international bribery, you may very well find yourself at the front end of long federal prison term.”
Thiam’s sentencing by U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote of the Southern District of New York was announced by Blanco Kim, Assistant Director Stephen E. Richardson of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Field Office.
Thiam was convicted on May 3, after a seven-day trial of one count of transacting in criminally derived property and one count of money laundering.
“As a unanimous jury found at trial, Thiam abused his position as Guinea’s Minister of Mines to take millions in bribes from a Chinese conglomerate, and then launder that money through the American financial system,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kim.
“Enriching himself at the expense of one Africa’s poorest countries, Thiam used some of the Chinese bribe money to pay his children’s Manhattan private school tuition and to buy a $3.75 million estate in Dutchess County”, Kim added.
“Thiam abused his official position, but the outcome shows that no one is above the law,” said Assistant Director Stephen E. Richardson.
“The FBI will not stand by while individuals attempt to live by their own rules and use the United States as a safe haven for their ill-gotten gains. I would like to applaud the dedicated investigators and prosecutors who have worked to hold those who have committed these crimes accountable for their illegal actions.”