Gambia demands probe as US police again shoot dead diplomat’s son

The Gambia has demanded a “credible” investigation after the son of a diplomat was shot dead by US police.

Thirty-nine-year-old Momodou Lamin Sisay was shot after a car chase in Georgia on Friday morning, according to the preliminary investigation by Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

He was pronounced dead on the scene. The police said he had produced a gun.

The shooting comes amid widespread protests after a US police officer killed George Floyd last week.

What happened to Sisay?
Georgia investigators said that at approximately 03:49 in the morning, a police officer in Snellville, Georgia attempted to stop his vehicle but the vehicle did not stop, and a pursuit ensued.

“Officers approached the vehicle and gave verbal commands for the driver to show his hands. The driver did not comply… the driver pointed a handgun at the officers. Officers fired at the driver and pulled back to take cover behind their patrol vehicles,” investigators said.

A Swat team was called and “during the standoff, the driver pointed his weapon and fired at the SWAT officers. One GCPD SWAT officer fired his weapon”, they added.

Lare Sisay, the victim’s father who works at the United Nations, said the police did not do enough to peacefully resolve the situation, and also disputed that he had a gun, according to local media.

“We will do an independent autopsy and we want to get a private investigator to investigate the circumstances of his death and if necessary hire a lawyer to sue the Georgia state police. We’re not going to let it go,” The Point newspaper quotes him as saying.

On Tuesday The Gambia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked its embassy in Washington DC to “engage the relevant US authorities including the State Department to seek transparent, credible and objective investigation”.

Mr Sisay’s name has been used in social media posts this week supporting the campaign against US police brutality against black people.

Protests have been taking place across the US following the death of Mr Floyd, an African-American man, who died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kept his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Mr Chauvin has been sacked from the police force and charged with murder.

Floyd’s Death in U.S. Spurs Protests and Outrage Across Africa

The killing of an unarmed African-American by a white police officer in Minneapolis is sparking outrage across sub-Saharan Africa, with protests staged in Kenya and Nigeria and political leaders voicing angry criticism.

Several dozen people gathered peacefully outside the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, on Tuesday, while small groups of people braved heavy rain to demonstrate on the streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

The protestation from Africa add to international pressure on American authorities to ensure there is justice for George Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. The objections are all the more stinging given that many African nations have been at the receiving end of U.S. criticism for violating their own citizens’ rights.

“Black people the world over are shocked and distraught by the killing,” Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said on Twitter. “It cannot be right that in the 21st century the U.S., this great bastion of democracy, continues to grapple with the problem of systemic racism.”

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, said the continental group condemned the killing “in the strongest terms” and rejected the continuing discriminatory practices against black citizens of the U.S.

The series of recent killings of African-Americans “has sharpened the focus on inescapable realities that American society places a perilously low value on black lives,” South Africa’s ruling party said in a statement. “It is deplorable that almost 70 years since racial segregation was abolished in America, people of color are still routinely slaughtered for the color of their skin.”

Nigeria’s government joined in the condemnation and called for those responsible to be held accountable.

“We hope that greater efforts be made to restore confidence between the police and the black communities,” said Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman. “ We equally urge that incidents like this should not be allowed to happen again.”

In Zimbabwe, the government summoned the U.S. ambassador to explain a White House official’s remarks suggesting the southern African nation is exploiting protests over Floyd’s killing. That came after Senator Marco Rubio said on Twitter that “foreign adversaries” used social media to stoke and promote violence in the U.S. and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien later identified Zimbabwe as one of the candidates.

Nick Mangwana, a spokesman for Zimbabwe’s government, said the nation doesn’t consider itself an adversary of the U.S. government.

All you need to know as The Securities and Exchange Commission of the US charged Asante Berko with orchestrating a bribery scheme to help a client win a contract to build and operate a power plant in Ghana.

The Managing Director of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), Asante K. Berko has been charged under the United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

In a press release issued Monday April 13, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the US charged Berko with orchestrating a bribery scheme to help a client win a contract to build and operate a power plant in Ghana.

The SEC’s complaint which has been filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, charges Berko with violating the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA and federal securities laws. The SEC is seeking monetary penalties against Berko among other remedies.

The SEC alleges that 46-year-old Berko, a dual US and Ghana citizen who is a former executive of Goldman Sachs in London, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of the US, helped his firm’s client, a Turkish energy company, to funnel at least $2.5 million to a Ghana-based intermediary to pay illicit bribes to Ghanaian government officials in order to gain their approval of an electrical power plant project.

The SEC in its complaint, further alleges that Berko helped the intermediary pay more than $200,000 in bribes to various other government officials, and Berko personally paid more than $60,000 to members of the Ghanaian parliament and other government officials.

The SEC indicates that, Berko took deliberate measures to prevent his employer from detecting his bribery scheme, including misleading his employer’s compliance personnel about the true role and purpose of the intermediary company.

Berko who is currently living in Ghana was appointed the MD of the country’s only refinery at Tema in January 2020 following the resignation of its former MD, Mr. Isaac Osei.

“As alleged in our complaint, Berko orchestrated a scheme to bribe high-level Ghanaian officials in pursuit of firm business and his own enrichment. Berko’s misconduct was egregious and individual accountability remains a key component to our FCPA enforcement efforts,” said Charles Cain, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit. “The firm’s compliance personnel took appropriate steps to prevent the firm from participating in the transaction and it is not being charged,” the SEC said in the release.

Among others court documents state the following:

On April 14, 2015, the Intermediary Senior Executive emailed Berko an invoice for $500,000 owed by the Energy Company, along with a schedule for funding the bribery scheme:

$1.5 million when the parties signed the Power Purchase Agreement;

$1.5 million when the Energy Company received a Letter of Credit from the government;

and $1.5 million when the power plant began operations.

The invoice contained specific instructions for the funds to be wired to the Ghana account of a shell company controlled by the Intermediary, via a New York correspondent bank.

On April 18, 2015, the Energy Company CFO updated Berko and the Intermediary Executive on the negotiations with the government:

“Hopefully once we have the green light tomorrow, we’ll send the contract for [the power plant] with all changes.”

He added: “[We are] planning to come on Monday with an extended team to have meetings [with the Government Electricity Company] on Tuesday.”

On April 19, 2015, the Intermediary Executive again urged Berko and the Energy Company CEO for the $500,000 in bribe money because “the intended recipient” – [Government Official 1] – “is on my case.”

The Intermediary Executive added:

“I am going to part with [$250,000] to [Government Official 1] on the basis that I will receive the same in due course. This will represent part payment to him as discussed.”

The Intermediary Executive then pressed “to have the [$1.5 million] also here in Ghana no later than end of this week or early part of the following [week]” because “[a]s agreed, certain payments will be made on signing [of the Power Purchase Agreement] and I believe all will be covered if you follow the above guidelines.”

The Energy Company CFO quickly agreed to the initial $500,000 fund transfer for Government Official 1, but expressed some confusion on the schedule.

Responding to the Intermediary Executive and Berko, he stated: “I have an invoice for $500k. That’s what you are referring to right, to be paid within this week? Then . . . [$1 million] at signing [the Power Purchase Agreement] and [$1.5 million] at [the signing of the Letter of Credit from the government].”

He then voiced concern about the lack of information from Government Official 1: “Why is there no news from [Government Official 1] [about the] extension and meeting on Tuesday, any news you can share?”

Replying to the Energy Company CFO and Berko that same day, the Intermediary Executive again emphasized the necessity for the bribe money:

“Please proceed as I stated earlier. It is in all our interest to make the necessaries [sic] are done now. [$500,000] now!!!”

He then reiterated the proposed schedule: “[$1 million] on signing [the Power Purchase Agreement] and $1.5 million on [signing the Letter of Credit]. As stated, I am getting concerned with [Government Official 1] and his resistance. I’ve decided to sort him out this week following recent developments and would advise that you have the same ready for me immediately upon signature.”

On Monday, April 20, 2015, the Energy Company’s CFO responded, copying Berko: “Money is ready, [but the Energy Company CEO] wants to talk to [the Intermediary Senior Executive] and [the PEP].” Shortly thereafter, he again emailed the Intermediary Executive and Berko to confirm the bribes:

“[$500,000] is coming today or tomorrow. [Please]pay [Government Official 1]. Let’s do the meeting on Tuesday and agree on 370 and the rest. Send [the] contract to [government official] and prepare for signing before Friday.”

On May 12, 2015, the Energy Company and the Ministry of Power signed the Power Purchase Agreement, triggering another milestone payment.

Berko, the Intermediary Executive, and the Energy Company Executives almost immediately arranged the next tranche of funding for the bribe scheme:

On May 12, 2015, the Intermediary Senior Executive emailed the Intermediary Executive an invoice for the Energy Company to provide an additional $1.5 million of funding that was intended to be used to further the bribery scheme.

On May 19, 2015, the Intermediary Executive forwarded the invoice for $1.5 million to the Energy Company CEO for payment. When, or soon after, this invoice was sent, Berko also knew, or was reckless in not knowing, that the funds requested by the Intermediary Company were to be used to bribe government officials to approve the Power Plant Project.

On May 22, 2015, the Energy Company wired $1.5 million to the Intermediary Company. These funds were wired from the Energy Company’s bank account in Turkey, through a New York-based correspondent bank, to a shell company bank account in Ghana under the control of the Intermediary Company.

On May 26, 2015, the Energy Company CEO emailed the Intermediary Executive a copy of a bank document confirming the payment. At or soon after the time of this payment, Berko knew that it had been made.d.On May 28, 2015, the PEP received $30,000 from the same bank account into which the Energy Company had transferred the $1.5 million and which the Intermediary Company used to facilitate the bribery scheme.

On June 11, 2015, Berko received $75,000 from the same bank account into which the Energy Company transferred the $1.5 million and which the Intermediary Company used to facilitate the bribery scheme.

On July 15, 2015, Berko emailed Intermediary Employee 1 his bank account information along with fund transfer instructions so that the Intermediary Company could wire him funds for the bribery scheme.

Berko’s fund transfer instructions specified that funds should be routed through a New York-based correspondent bank to Berko’s account at a bank in Ghana.

On July 17, 2015, the Ghanaian parliament ratified the Power Purchase Agreement, another of the milestones that triggered additional funding for the bribery scheme. That same day, Intermediary Employee 1 forwarded Berko’s bank account information and fund transfer instructions to the Intermediary Executive with the note: “[Berko] payments $33,800.”

Berko planned to use these funds to bribe (or to reimburse himself for bribes already made to) government officials, including members of parliament, to advance the Power Plant Project.62.On July 20, 2015, the Senior Intermediary Executive emailed the Intermediary Executive and Berko apprising them on the progress of their corrupt scheme:

“Just a quick update from my side and anything we can do to get some of the outstanding deliverables happening . . . .

Caught up with [Government Official 1] and I think we are aligned on how to proceed. He claims to have resolved the [Government Utility Company] issue so no problem from there and I agreed with him to do the needful for the boys there . . . .

I presume [Government Official 2] will do most of the required memo’s [sic] to get things moving.”

He then noted that “[the Intermediary Company is] due to issue a milestone invoice on parliamentary ratification” as “Funds [were] urgently required for next crucial steps.”

At that point, a dispute arose between Berko and the Intermediary Senior Executive concerning the amount of funding the Energy Company was obligated to provide to the Intermediary Company.

In particular, the Intermediary Senior Executive claimed that the Energy Company had agreed to fund $5 million for the bribery scheme and demanded a $1.5 million “milestone payment” of that agreed amount. Berko, however, maintained that the Energy Company had only agreed to fund a total of $3 million, and that no more funds were due.

Email communications on July 20, 2015 documented this dispute:

Berko, who was then in New York, promptly responded to the Intermediary Senior Executive’s July 20, 2015 email requesting a $1.5 million milestone payment. First, Berko stated that “a deal will be reached as [the Energy Company] is not in a position to renege as long as I am working on the project,” adding that “we need to also agree my split vis a vis [the Intermediary Company].”

Then Berko asserted that all milestone payments due had already been paid:

“With regards to invoices there is not one that can be raised at this stage . . . .

Based on the schedule [$1 million] was for signing and [$1 million] was for parliamentary approval . . . and last will be based on [the receipt of the Letter of Credit].”

The Intermediary Senior Executive continued to demand the additional payment. Later that day, he emailed Berko:

“[The] deal is for [$5 million] and hence the historical [$500,000] + [$1.5 million] and not [$1 million] + [$1 million] . . . .

[Therefore] there is [$1.5 million] due now (parliament) and another [$1.5 million for the Letter of Credit].”

Berko again disputed the amounts owed: “As far as I was concerned [the Energy Company] did not agree to 5 million and they are also saying the same thing. I will chalk down to misunderstanding rather than a devious attempt to screw anyone out of cash. I am doing my best to manage a relationship that will pay everyone millions of dollars and I hope it is appreciated as [it] is not easy to get counterparts that will pay out 2 million without a transaction closing.”

Berko knew, or was reckless in not knowing, that the funds discussed in these email communications were to be used to bribe government officials and/or otherwise facilitate the bribe scheme.

Covid19: US overtakes Italy to have highest coronavirus death toll in the world after 2,000 deaths in a day

The United States has reached a grim milestone in the fight against coronavirus, passing Italy to become the country with the most deaths in the world.

A tally by Johns Hopkins University showed Saturday that 18,860 people have now died in the U.S. since the start of the outbreak. On Saturday, 2,108 people died in the U.S. in the past 24 hours – the first country in the world to record more than 2,000 deaths in a single day.

As a result, the U.S. has now overtaken Italy’s total of 18,849. It has recorded more than 503,000 cases.

Covid19: Six weeks old baby dies of Coronavirus

A six-week-old baby in Connecticut has died from coronavirus and is believed to be the youngest confirmed fatality from the illness anywhere in the world.

The infant was taken to the hospital unresponsive last week and could not be revived. Their death was announced on Wednesday by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont. No other details were given other than that.

Lamont said he believes the infant is the youngest fatality ‘anywhere’.

‘It is with heartbreaking sadness today that we can confirm the first pediatric fatality in Connecticut linked to #COVID-19.

‘A 6-week-old newborn from the Hartford area was brought unresponsive to a hospital late last week and could not be revived.

‘Testing confirmed last night that the newborn was COVID-19 positive.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said on Wednesday that a six-week-old baby had died. He believes it is the youngest known fatality’This is absolutely heartbreaking. We believe this is one of the youngest lives lost anywhere due to complications relating to COVID-19.

‘This is a virus that attacks our most fragile without mercy. This also stresses the importance of staying home and limiting exposure to other people.

‘Your life and the lives of others could literally depend on it. Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time,’ he said in a string of tweets.

Connecticut has 3,128 cases and 69 deaths as a result of coronavirus.

It is unknown if the baby had any respiratory problems or underlying health conditions.

It reinforces what doctors have been saying; that the virus is unpredictable and while is mostly attacking the old or vulnerable, it has been known to strike people who otherwise seem healthy.

Around the world, the vast majority of stories of deaths have involved older or immuno-compromised people.

National Guard troops set up a field hospital at the Southern Connecticut State University’s Field House in Connecticut

Troops move medical supplies through the Southern Connecticut State University’s Moore Field HouseThere are few known instances of it affecting babies, however much of the problem in knowing just how deadly the virus is is down to inconsistent or lack of reporting.

It has been widely claimed, for example, that China – where the virus originated – had many more deaths than the 3,000 they reported.

The US has now far exceeded China’s death toll; as of April 1, 4,300 people had died and the country is still weeks behind China’s trajectory in terms of how long the virus will last.

The Surgeon General warned on Wednesday that 30 days would not be long enough to stop the spread of the virus in some states and that others would need longer.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he has ‘no idea’ how long the pandemic will go on and that the state will not reach its apex until the end of April.

He is urging other states to prepare themselves for a similarly traumatic experience as New York is enduring now.

Between Tuesday and Wednesday, the number of infections in New York State rose to 83,712 – an increase of 7,941 – and the death toll surged from 1550 to 1941.

Cuomo said the ‘apex’ – when the most will die and become infected – has still not hit and that it will come at the end of April.

A patient arrives at the newly constructed field hospital in Central Park, New York City, on WednesdayHe is urging other states to pay attention to what is happening in New York and plan ahead now, saying in a direct appeal to people in more rural states during a press conference in Albany: ‘This is not just a New York problem.

‘People watch their nightly news in Kansas and say, “it’s a New York problem.” Well it’s not.

‘It’s a New York problem today. Tomorrow, it’s a Kansas problem, a Texas problem, a New Mexico problem. Look at us today, see yourself tomorrow,’ he said.

He also urged the NYPD to down on the crowds of ‘selfish, reckless’ people who continue to flout social distancing guidelines by gathering in large groups.

‘The NYPD has got to get more aggressive. Period. If you’re going to force me into a position where I have to mandate it and make it a law, a social distancing law – which I think is absurd – it has to be enforced.

‘How reckless and irresponsible and selfish for people not to do it on their own? What else do you have to know?

‘Who else has to die for you to to understand you have a responsibility in this?’ he fumed.

Earlier on Wednesday, Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: ‘The original 15 days was designed to slow the spread and for us to have some time to reassess.

‘We learned good and bad things. No state has been spared, but when you look at places like Washington and California that aggressively mitigated with social distancing, they were able to flatten their curve.
‘We’re looking at it as an opportunity for the entire country to say, if we do these things, we can flatten the curve.

Asked if 30 days would be long enough, he replied: ‘It will be for some places. It won’t be for others, depending on where they are on their curve.’

In a different interview with Today, he said: ‘What we’ve always said is that everyone is on a different place in their curve.

‘Some places that leaned in early may relax their guidelines.’

‘In my opinion, in 30 days, we will still be telling the country in general that you still have to practice these measures but they may not have a shelter-in-place order.

‘We’ll go on the data,’ he said.