Former President of Guinea Pleads Guilty to Bulk Cash Smuggling and False Statements
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Sekouba Konate, 51, the former President of Guinea in West Africa and current General Commander of the Security Forces of the African Union, pleaded guilty today to charges of bulk cash smuggling and false statements.
In a statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, on June 15, 2013, General Konate arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport from Ethiopia and proceeded through Customs and Immigration illegally carrying thousands of dollars in undeclared cash. General Konate previously had applied for and received a G-4 visa to visit the United States based upon his employment with a foreign government. From in or about January 2010 to December 2010, General Konate served as the transitional President of Guinea following a military coup. From in or about December 2010 to the present, he has served as the General Commander of the Security Forces of the African Union—a military organization of 54 member states.
Upon his arrival at Dulles Airport, General Konate approached Primary Inspection and handed the assigned officer from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), among other things, a signed Customs Declaration form that falsely and willfully represented that he was not carrying over $10,000 in U.S. currency or its equivalent anywhere on his person or in his effects. When asked by the CBP Officer for a verbal confirmation, General Konate falsely and willfully repeated the same representation, even though he knew that he was carrying far in excess of $10,000, which was concealed on his person and in his luggage, in order to evade a currency-reporting requirement.
Following his referral to Secondary Inspection for further investigation, General Konate encountered two other CBP Officers and a Special Agent with Homeland Security Investigations. When he was asked again by the officers whether he was carrying over $10,000, General Konate this time responded that he was and amended his Customs Declaration form to reflect the $14,000 in U.S. currency that he was carrying in his wallet. In truth and in fact, General Konate knew that he was carrying significantly more currency at the time and willfully and materially made a false statement on his Customs Declaration form that misrepresented the actual amount of currency that he had concealed in his luggage. Based upon the inconsistency in his prior responses, CBP Officers conducted a preliminary search of General Konate’s luggage. The search revealed an additional $30,750 in U.S. currency, which was divided into several stacks of money and was concealed in various compartments of General Konate’s luggage.
Subsequent to the discovery of the $30,750, CBP Officers asked General Konate to complete a document, a FinCEN 105 form, that he knew would be filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of Treasury. General Konate completed and signed the FinCEN 105 form in the presence of the officers and represented that he was carrying a total of only $44,750 in currency, which accounted for the $14,000 in his wallet and the $30,750 that had been found during the search. When General Konate signed the FinCEN 105 form, he willfully and materially misrepresented the total amount of money that he had concealed in his luggage.
After General Konate signed the FinCEN 105 form, CBP Officers conducted a second and more thorough search of his luggage. During the search, officers discovered an additional $20,020 in U.S. currency, which again was divided into several stacks of money and was concealed in various compartments of General Konate’s luggage. Following the searches, General Konate was found in possession of a total of $64,770 in U.S. currency, in stark contrast to his initial representation on his Customs Declaration form that he was not carrying over $10,000. During his encounters with officers, General Konate repeatedly made statements that the questioning of him and accompanying searches were improper given his status as the former President of Guinea and current Commanding General of the African Union forces.
General Konate was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 7, 2015, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 19, 2016. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Clark E. Settles, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gene Rossi, Monika L. Moore, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna G. Kaminska are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:15-cr-132.