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Senegal: IMF official given cash farewell gift

Senegal: IMF official given cash farewell gift

Senegal's president said Tuesday that his top aide gave nearly $200,000 "in error" to an International Monetary Fund representative as a parting gift.
President Abdoulaye Wade said his top aide gave the cash to IMF country director Alex Segura after a Sept. 25 dinner marking the end of Segura's three-year term. Wade issued a statement Tuesday in which he said the gift was not a bribe.
The statement said that a top aide to the president had asked if he should give something to Segura as is custom.
"The president said yes without specifying the sum, as there was a common practice," the statement said. "The top aide was mistaken about the amount and realized his error later."
The statement did not specify what the proper amount was supposed to be. Nor did Wade say if the Senegalese government had followed a similar practice with other diplomats or foreign officials.
Wade said he was not attempting to bribe Segura.
"It doesn't make sense to talk about corruption of someone who is leaving permanently without the slightest chance of meeting each other again one day," Wade said.
An IMF statement issued late Monday said the Washington-based organization would launch an independent investigation into the matter.
"The president explained that the money was intended as a traditional farewell gift to Mr. Segura in recognition of his contribution to Senegal, and was not in any way intended to influence either Mr. Segura, who was leaving the country permanently, or the IMF," the IMF said in a statement. "He acknowledged that the amount that was provided was a mistake."
The statement said Segura left the president's house immediately for the airport and only later discovered that the gift was a large sum of U.S. dollars and euros.
"With Mr. Segura worried about missing his flight and, concerned that there was no place to leave the money safely in Senegal, he decided to take the money aboard the plane," the statement said.
The IMF says Segura informed his successor and they agreed that Segura would transport the money to his destination, Barcelona. The IMF returned the money to Senegal's ambassador to Spain in early October. Segura has since returned to Washington, the statement said.