Uganda – Corrupt Payments

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Parliament orders the repayment of fees paid to 42 officials following a victory in landmark tax arbitration case. 

The Ugandan Parliament has ordered all 42 government officials who had received a payout to refund the Ugandan Shillings (UShs) 6 billion that they had shared as a reward by President Yoweri Museveni for winning a landmark arbitration tax dispute.

The tax dispute related to British-based oil firms Heritage Oil and Gas and Tullow Oil. In July 2010 Heritage Oil and Gas sold its assets in Uganda to Tullow Oil for US$1.5bn, with the Ugandan Revenue Authority (URA) issuing a tax bill of $434m.

In May 2011, Heritage Oil and Gas initiated arbitration proceedings against the Ugandan Government for the release of $405m held by the URA following the scale of interests in oil blocks 1 and 3A in July 2010.

The case against Heritage Oil and Gas was decided in Uganda’s favour and therefore upheld URA’s assessment of $434m as Capital Gains Tax, reported Uganda-based, the Independent.

The payment to the 42 officials was a reward for their purported role in the arbitration case.

Most of the beneficiaries who received between UShs50m and UShs200m had also profited from a UShs56bn money pot which was passed by Parliament across seven financial years to facilitate Uganda’s legal team to prosecute the tax case against the two British oil firms.

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President Yoweri Museveni – CC 2012.

However, some senior officials who took a share snubbed the Parliament’s directive for a refund. They stated that they cannot refund the money since President Museveni supported the payment.

Solicitor General Francis Atoke, who pocketed UShs234m, said, “why should I (refund the money)? The money was paid to us, we did not ask for it even when we handled the case. It was the principal (Museveni) who gave us (the money) and we used it, so refund what? There is nothing to refund.”

While the parliament committee’s report does not explicitly name the officials, it accuses URA Commissioner General Doris Akol of violating the URA Act and Public Finance Management Act when she authorised withdrawal of UShs6b from URA account, reported the Monitor.

The notable beneficiaries of the so-called presidential handshake also include Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) Executive Director Allen Kagina and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Executive Director Jennifer Musisi among others, reported the Observer

Uganda continues to suffer from widespread corruption, which hinders business and investment in the country. There have been numerous reports of bribes and under the table payments within high level government circles.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

ROADS AND RAILWAYS: Uganda
Economic, Financial & Technical Series.
Vol. 54, Issue. 2, Pp. 21618B–21619B 

UGANDA: Drought Hits Hard
Economic, Financial & Technical Series.
Vol. 53, Issue. 12, Pp. 21533A–21534A

UGANDA: Kasese Inaction Criticised
Political, Social & Cultural Series.
Vol. 54, Issue. 5, Pp. 21445A–21446C

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