Sunday, September 04, 2011

Wikileaks: Kikwete Corruption Tidbit

Classified By: Ambassador Michael Retzer, Reason 1.5 (d)

1. (C) President Kikwete has accepted gifts (bribes) from  the owner of the Kempinski Hotel chain,s Tanzanian  properties, a citizen of the United Arab Emirates.

2. (C) In a conversation with the manager and the publicity  director of Dar Es Salaam,s Kilimanjaro-Kempinski Hotel  hours after accompanying A/S Frazer to her October 18, 2005  meeting with then-Foreign Minister Kikwete, I commented on Kikwete's flashy attire, asking "Who dresses him?" "We do,"  they responded.  Initially thinking this meant Kikwete  frequented a men,s shop in the hotel, I learned later in  the  evening from hotel publicity director Lisa Pile (protect)  that the hotel owner*UAE citizen Ali Albwardy*had recently  flown Kikwete to London for a subsidized shopping  expedition.  Among other things, on that trip Ali Albwardy bought  Kikwete five Saville Row suits.  He had also recently made a $1 million cash contribution to the CCM (which is a legal  contribution under current Tanzanian law).

 3. (C) Pile told me the Kempinski Hotel chain is greatly  expanding its presence in Tanzania.  She said that in  December it would open "the best hotel in Zanzibar."  Her  prediction was a little off; the new Kempinski hotel, located  on the beach on Zanzibar,s east coast, opened January 5.  I  attended the opening ceremony along with Zanzibari President Karume, who was asked publicly by Ali Albwardy for a site in Stone Town to build a new hotel.  Later that day, Pile revealed that the Zanzibar government had already earmarked  for Ali Albwardy a hotel site in Stone Town.

 4. (C) Pile also said in the October 18 conversation that Ali Abwardy was about to receive the rights to construct two new hotels on the mainland: one on the edge of Ngorongoro Crater and another on the Serengeti plain overlooking the main animal migration routes.  Stringent conservation rules  currently ban the construction of permanent structures  inside  national parks*including in the crater and on the Serengeti  plain*but Pile said that in November legislation would be introduced to parliament to authorize the new hotels. (Comment: We have received no reports on new legislation, but the Dar Es Salaam Daily News on January 15 reported that  the Tanzania National Parks Authority had approved construction of a five star hotel on the Serengeti plain.)

 5. (C) Later on October 18, over dinner, an Indian/South Asian man described as a business associate of Ali Albwardy briefly took Pile from the table for a conversation in Kiswahili.  I am not sure what was said, but Kikwete's name came up several times and he passed her an envelope.  Pile told me the envelope was stuffed with 1 million shillings ( $1,000) and was to pay for a Kikwete meeting at the Kilmanjaro-Kempinski later that month.  Apparently Kikwete is a regular customer, but no name ever appears on the hotel  registry when a government bigshot has an "event" in one of the guest rooms.

6. (C) Bio Note:  Lisa Pile, an Australian citizen, has lived in Dar working for Kempinski Hotels since early 2004. Before that she had served in a similar capacity with the Kempinski chain in China.  Her family in Australia is prominent in Australia's Liberal Party (the center-right party of Prime Minister John Howard).

7. (C) Comment:  What does it all mean?  I don,t know, but  my guess is that the investor Ali Albwardy has access to oil money out of the UAE.  I suspect giving free clothes and the campaign donation is just the way these people do business.

8. (C) For his part, Kikwete probably thinks having all these five star hotels around is a good idea for the country,and I agree with him.  His new minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Anthony Diallo, says he wants to double tourism,s contribution to the national economy in ten year,s time. Kikwete probably believes there is no harm in taking these & little gifts8 to do what he would have been inclined to do  anyway.  That said, they are what they are: bribes.

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