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

Solicitor General, MPs Clash Over Oil Case Facilitation

Discussed in the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Entreprises on March 30th, 2017

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Officials from the Attorney General’s office have been put to task to give accountability over money spent to facilitate a team to handle an oil arbitration case in London.

The team, led by Solicitor General Francis Atoke, appeared before the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), which is investigating the Ugx 6 billion presidential handshake, on March 30, 2017 to defend the expenditure.

Documents presented before the committee indicate that the team spent Ugx 189.6 million as expenditure to facilitate the arbitration in London for the 2011/2012 financial year.

At least 20 officials received the facilitation, including Atoke, Harriet Lwabi (Ugx 1.4m), Christopher Gashirabake (Ugx 1.2m), Mary Nankabirwa (Ugx 1.9m), Rodney Goloba (Shs 756,000), Martin Mwambutsya (Ugx 1.9 m), among others.

During the same financial year, Parliament approved Ugx 11.9 billion to facilitate the arbitration case in London.

Committee chairman, Abdu Katuntu tasked Atoke to table documents justifying the supplementary budget expenditures for the case; however Atoke revealed that the Ministry of Justice received Ugx 189.6 billion for the allowances of its legal personnel.

Atoke explained that while Ugx 11.9 billion was approved as supplementary budget, the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee ordered for the freezing of Ugx 11.7 billion.

The committee however tasked him to produce evidence to show that the ministry spent the said monies; however he failed to produce them.

The legislators were not satisfied with the explanations and directed that the Auditor General’s office investigates the matter and carries out an audit on the expenditure.

The Auditor General is, within a week, also expected to audit all expenditure spent to facilitate payment of allowances given to the officials for local and international engagements, as well as budget allocations from 2010 to 2016.

Also to be scrutinised is a Ugx 2.7 billion payment to unknown individuals in the Justice Ministry, after MPs noted discrepancies in the expenditure. Also under scrutiny documents showing that some money was spent in July 2017, 2018 and 2019.

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