U.S. imposes sanctions on four Ugandans over adoption scam


Washington (Reuters) – The United States imposed sanctions on four Ugandans on Monday, including two judges, accusing them of participating in a fraudulent adoption scam, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.

The Treasury accused Ugandan judges Moses Mukiibi and Wilson Musalu Musene, lawyer Dorah Mirembe and her husband, Patrick Ecobu, of participating in a scheme that removed Ugandan children from their families under a promise of “special education” programs and study in the United States, and instead offered them to American families for adoption.

“Deceiving innocent Ugandan families into giving up their children for adoption has caused great suffering,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich said in a statement. “The individuals involved in this corrupt scam deliberately exploited the good faith of Ugandans and Americans to enrich themselves.”

Monday’s action freezes any U.S. assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. The State Department also barred Mukiibi and Musene from traveling to the United States.

The Treasury said Mirembe’s law firm promised vulnerable families in remote villages that their children would be moved to Kampala for education, where American prospective adoptive parents then traveled to adopt children from an unlicensed children’s home.

The Treasury also accused Mirembe, with help from Ecobu, of facilitating multiple bribes to judges Mukiibi and Musene.

In a separate action, the Department of Justice on Monday said it had charged Mirembe and an American, Debra Parris of Lake Dallas, Texas, in an indictment filed last week with money laundering and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the alleged Ugandan scheme.

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