Note: This is our record of what transpired in the meeting. Not verbatim.

COSASE meets #BillionHandShake Beneficiaries

Discussed in the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Entreprises on February 6th, 2017

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The committee, chaired by Hon. Abdul Katuntu continued its investigations into the matter that saw 42 individuals receive various amounts of money totaling to UGX 6 billion from the proceeds Uganda gained from winning against Tullow oil in a London Court. As the investigation winds down, the committee met some of the beneficiaries with the hope of ascertaining their individual roles and also justifying the amounts each of them received.

The Commissioner General, Doris Akol who also doubled as the accounting officer of the said money led the team from Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) accompanied by Lawyer Ssekatawa and other beneficiaries. During the probe, it was heard that the International Law Firms, M/S Curtis and others were procured through direct sourcing after the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) gave a green light. The members of COSASE also were not convinced as to why Uganda needed to procure firms for work local firms could ably accomplish. Ms Doris asked to provide minutes for the corresponding meetings with the firms on Friday, a request the committee allowed.

The Committee met with 4 beneficiaries today, the committee was interested in the role they played and how much of the handshake each received. MP Katuntu hoped to establish the justification of all the money received. The beneficiaries met include;

Mr. Mathew Mugabi played the role of Manager Litigation during the tenure of the case. He received UGX 100M of the aforementioned money after tax. It was noted during the meeting that Mr. Mathew wasn’t so forthcoming with answers to the questions the chair and his contemporaries posed. He, to almost all the questions, answered that he would like to stick to the recollections and answers that Ms. Doris Akol and Mr. Ssekatawa had provided to the committee. He also told the committee most of his answers were readily available in the written documents availed to the committee.

Mr. Samuel Kaluga provided  insight and context to the local tax laws relating to oil in Uganda. While the case was being arbitrated on an international level, it was important that they understood Uganda’s take.  His job was extraordinary because the case was to set precedence to subsequent cases of the same nature. He also said that the parties from Tullow were so arrogant and adamant in attending to him and was on call 24 hours. He however, didn’t involve Police in any attempt to access Tullow and heritage offices despite prior futile attempts.

Mr. Kibumba Moses played the role of assessor for the case and was a recipient of UGX 73 Million after Tax. It’s also important to note that Mr. Moses retired from URA about 2 years ago however, he participated in the case. He said his role was pertinent  and it was his role that assured a win on the part of Uganda, otherwise it would have collapsed. He said his role was so difficult because even local law firms had advised that the case would not be won. Mr. Kibumba worked with a team although his team mates did not receive money. When asked, he said he was just a beneficiary and did not play any role whatsoever in choosing the recipients of the money.  Although he did not actively participate in London, he said always met with the team to give his assessment. Mr. Kibumba did not have minutes of the meetings because he did not attend all of them, he said he was sent out of the meeting at one point because he was considered too small for the discussion. He mentioned that he did not recall who chaired the meeting but that the former CG, Ms Allen Kagina was in attendance on that particular day.

Ms Annet Bazalirwaki also received UGX 53M of the money after tax. She was a supervisor of Natural resources in the department of Domestic taxes. Ms Annet told the committee that she went out of her way to contribute to the case, from arriving in office at 5 a.m. to leaving after 10 p.m. She also told the committee that she undertook further studies and vast amounts of research on the topic to better understand the dynamics of the case. It was later found out that she only undertook online research. Also while she held a supervisory role, at the time she did not have any subordinates to supervise, in addition, she said while in London she only escorted her bosses to court and was not actively participating, she is an accountant by profession.

The committee only had time to meet the four beneficiaries and committed to continue hearings the next day. However, given National Resistance Movement MPs are scheduled to vote for their East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) representative then, as reported by Hon Babadiri, the hearings were pushed to Wednesday 8th. Hon Katuntu assured the witnesses that the proceedings were not a witch hunt but just an attempt to reach the bottom of the issue. He promised to use objectivity during the entire process before he adjourned.

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