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Sanctions and Visa Restrictions for 4 Ugandans

OFAC added the following persons:

ECOBU, Patrick (a.k.a. MUKISA, Patrick), Uganda; DOB 29 Jan 1976; nationality Uganda; Gender Male; National ID No. 001278331 (Uganda) (individual) [GLOMAG].

 MIREMBE, Dorah, Uganda; DOB 27 Feb 1979; nationality Uganda; Gender Female; National ID No. 001278404(Uganda) (individual) [GLOMAG].

MUKIIBI, Moses, Uganda; DOB 09 May 1954; POB Bugobango Village, Mpigi District, Uganda; nationality Uganda; Gender Male (individual) [GLOMAG].

MUSENE, Wilson Masalu (a.k.a. MUSENE, Wilson Musalu), Uganda; DOB 06 Mar 1956; POB Bushiswabula Village, Mbale District, Uganda; nationality Uganda; Gender Male (individual) [GLOMAG].

to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List) under its Global Magnitsky sanctions program for human rights abuses and corruption – in this case, for corruption.

And the State Department issued a statement, imposing additional restrictions:

Today, the United States imposed financial sanctions and visa restrictions on four Ugandan individuals for their involvement in activities that victimized young children in a corrupt adoption scheme.  Ugandan judges Moses Mukiibi and Wilson Musalu Musene, and Ugandan lawyer Dorah Mirembe and her associate Patrick Ecobu, participated in a scam whereby young children were removed from their families and placed into a corrupt adoption network, aided by the facilitation of Ugandan officials.  The U.S. government designated these four individuals pursuant to Executive Order 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.  The Department of State also designated Mukiibi and Musene under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94) due to their involvement in significant corruption.

Together, these individuals engaged in corruption to arrange the adoption of Ugandan children by unwitting parents in the United States.  Mirembe’s law firm used the services of intermediary parties to seek out vulnerable families in remote Ugandan villages, promising parents that their children would be moved to Kampala to further their education.  American prospective adoptive parents then traveled to Uganda to adopt children from an unlicensed children’s home in Kampala.

Mirembe, with the assistance of Ecobu, facilitated bribes to Ugandan judges and other Ugandan government officials to fraudulently procure adoption cases, either directly or through an interlocutor.  Mirembe paid bribes to get cases steered to judges Mukiibi and Musene.  Mukiibi and Musene are current or former government officials who have, directly or indirectly, engaged in corruption.

Under Section 7031(c), once the Secretary of State designates officials of foreign governments for their involvement, directly or indirectly, in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.  The law also requires the Secretary of State to either publicly or privately designate or identify such officials.

Today’s actions demonstrate the United States’ commitment to protecting the dignity of every human being and protecting the United States from those who seek to profit at the expense of others.  These individuals’ actions also resulted in the submission of false documentation to the Department of State for consideration in visa adjudication, a falsification the Department will not tolerate.

For further information regarding the financial sanctions imposed today, please see the Department of the Treasury’s press release available here: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm1095

as did the Treasury Department:

PRESS RELEASES

Treasury Sanctions Four Ugandans for Involvement in False Adoption Scam

Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned four Ugandans pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, for their involvement in an adoption scam that saw many Uganda-born children victimized by the participants in the scheme.

“Deceiving innocent Ugandan families into giving up their children for adoption has caused great suffering,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Justin G. Muzinich. “The individuals involved in this corrupt scam deliberately exploited the good faith of Ugandans and Americans to enrich themselves. The United States remains committed to seeking out and exposing individuals violating human rights across the world.”

ADOPTION SCAM

Ugandan judges Moses Mukiibi (Mukiibi) and Wilson Musalu Musene (Musene), Ugandan lawyer Dorah Mirembe (Mirembe), and Mirembe’s husband, Patrick Ecobu (Ecobu), participated in a scheme whereby, in certain instances, young children were removed from Ugandan families under promises for “special education” programs and study in the United States, and were subsequently offered to U.S. families for adoption. The adoption agency organizing the scheme used Mirembe’s law firm to handle the legal aspects of the adoptions, in some cases through the manipulation or falsification of court documents. Further, Mirembe’s law firm at times hired or used the services of intermediary parties to seek out vulnerable families in remote Ugandan villages to manipulate parents — who often could not read or write English — into giving their children up for adoption under false pretenses. Mirembe’s law firm, directly or through its intermediaries, promised parents that their children would be moved to Kampala, Uganda, and looked after by missionaries while being educated. Once removed from their homes, many of the children were placed primarily into one unlicensed children’s home in Kampala, and many were made to appear before courts as though they were in fact orphans. Unwitting American prospective adoptive parent(s) would then arrive in Uganda to adopt the children and bring them back to America.

In order to arrange the adoption of the children, Mirembe, with the assistance of Ecobu, facilitated multiple bribes to Ugandan judges Mukiibi, Musene, and other Ugandan government officials, either directly or through an interlocutor. Mirembehad negotiated with Musene a flat fee for processing adoption cases. In at least one case, Mirembe met directly with Musene to arrange an additional amount of money required for Musene to expedite the date of a pending adoption case on Musene’s court calendar. Following Musene’s transfer to a different court division, Mirembearranged to get cases steered to Mukiibi, to whom at least one individual paid cash bribes at the direction of Mirembe.

MOSES MUKIIBI and WILSON MUSALU MUSENE

Mukiibi and Musene are current or former government officials, or persons acting for or on behalf of such an official, who are responsible for or complicit in, or who have directly or indirectly engaged in corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

DORAH MIREMBE and PATRICK ECOBU

Mirembe and Ecobu have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods or services from any such person.

GLOBAL MAGNITSKY

Building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, the President signed E.O. 13818 on December 20, 2017, in which the President found that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, had reached such scope and gravity that it threatens the stability of international political and economic systems. Human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; and undermine economic markets. The United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons. 

For more information on the individuals designated today, click here.

In addition to their designation pursuant to E.O. 13818, the Department of State imposed visa restrictions on Mukiibi and Musene under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. G, P.L. 116-94).

Links:

OFAC Notice

State Department Press Release

Treasury Department Press Release

Categories: Anti-Corruption Global Magnitsky Sanctions OFAC Updates Sanctions Lists Section 7031(c) Anti-Corruption/Human Rights Designations State Department Updates

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