Photo: AFP via RFI
Senegal’s president’s son Karim Wade continues to blast Business Insider for raising questions about an alleged $200 million shake down over a telecom licence. He has also now formally refused our request for an interview.
A month ago, we described how Wade and presidential adviser Thierno Ousmane Sy (the son of the interior minister) demanded a huge payment from Millicom for a new licence to operate cellular service within the country, a payment that Millicom has alleged was an illegal request.
Wade has argued that this payment was simply a fair market price for the licence, but he has not explained why Millicom’s existing licence, which had another decade remaining on it, was canceled besides that it was obtained in 1998 for too little ($100,000).
For example, on November 3rd, 2008 the government published a decree (No. 2001-23) originally drafted on January 17th, 2001 that “ends the convention of concession” between Senegal and Sentel/Millicom. The reason listed was “for serious failures recorded against [Sentel/Millicom] and arising from its essential technical and financial obligations…” without specifying what those breaches of contract were.
Millicom is suing the Senegalese government over the nominally canceled licence in a World Bank court, and the company’s documents associated with this lawsuit formed the basis for our article. Senegal’s president, his son, and other officials have blasted our story as inaccurate, but they have never explained why. Now, it seems, they are continuing to try to shoot the messenger.
Prior to publishing our original story, we contacted the Senegalese embassy for comment. The Senegalese embassy did not provide one. After we published our story, the president’s son, Karim Wade, who was directly involved in the Millicom negotiations, issued a scathing communique accusing Business Insider of unfairly attacking him and the institutions of Senegal, suggesting that if we had only spoken to him ahead of publication, he could have explained the whole thing. We have since made several additional requests to get Wade’s side of the story, but he has refused to answer our questions.
Here’s what a Wade representative said last week:
WalFadjri: Mr. Karim Wade [the president’s son] doesn’t have anything more to say to this journalist. He did what he did without respecting the basic rules of verification and double-checking. Now that the affair is in the hands of justice, he can only assume.
Meanwhile, telecom adviser Sy is trying to spin our faxed request for an interview as an “apology.” According to Le Quotidien, Sy said in a speech last week that we sent a fax to say sorry for our “insulting article,” which he described as being manipulated by Millicom.
For the record, we didn’t apologise.
We repeat: We would be happy to hear the Senegalese government’s side of the story, especially on why Millicom’s contract was canceled. To our knowledge, this cancellation has never been fully explained. And until it is, we think observers can be forgiven for concluding that Senegalese officials were merely trying to shake down Millicom for $200 million.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.