Corrupt URA staff fined Shs8m, barred from office

Tuesday June 18 2019

Locked. Ferdinand Albaker Wamala, a former URA

Locked. Ferdinand Albaker Wamala, a former URA accountant (left), with a relative at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kololo, Kampala. PHOTO BY EPHRAIM KASOZI 

By EPHRAIM KASOZI

A staff of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has been sentenced to a fine of Shs8m and barred from holding a government office for the next 10 years after he confessed to soliciting and taking a bribe.
Ferdinand Albaker Wamala, a former URA accountant, was convicted on two counts of corruption. He pleaded guilty under the plea bargain mechanism, a justice procedure where the suspect agrees with the prosecution to plead guilty to the alleged offence in return for a lenient sentence.
The Anti-corruption Court trial Chief Magistrate, Ms Pamela Lamunu Ocaya, stopped Wamala from holding a public office for the next 10 years from the date of judgement.
“The convict is hereby sentenced to a fine of Shs4m on each of the two offences of corruption or one year in jail for each offence. Both sentences shall run consecutively. No order for compensation is made since the money was recovered,” Ms Ocaya ruled.
Mr Wamala’s conviction leaves his co-accused Mr Hassan Miiro, a former tax officer, on trial. The court has set July 11 for hearing of the case.
The two were arrested by State House Anti-corruption Unit led by Lt Col Edith Nakalema in a joint operation with police for allegedly receiving Shs45m, being a bribe from a businessman in Jinja District, Mr Abdulnoor Okumu Ikaata, to help him evade taxes worth Shs3b.
Wamala’s conviction is the first since the State House Anti-corruption Unit started its crackdown on corruption cases.
Court heard that Mr Ikaata, a sugarcane grower in Busoga Sub-region, received a tax arrears assessment of Shs3.7b covering the January 2012 to December 2017 period from URA but upon complaining, Wamala promised to help him have his objection allowed.
The state prosecutor, Ms Alice Komuhangi, said the convict Wamala and his co-accused Miiro asked for a meeting with Ikaata outside office and solicited money from him to reduce his tax liability.
Ms Komuhangi told court that although they had reached a settlement with Wamala, the offences of corruption are rampant and a stringent punishment should be meted out to deter others from indulging in the crime.

Prosecution

The state prosecutor, Ms Alice Komuhangi, said told court that between September 2018 and February 2019 in Jinja Municipality, Wamala and Mr Miiro being employed by URA as officer 1 and Supervisor in the Domestic Tax Department respectively, directly solicited Shs50m as a bribe from Ikaata in exchange for reduced income tax liability. The prosecution states that on February 19 at Nile Anchor Palace Limited in Jinja, the duo accepted Shs44,950,000 as a gratification from Ikaata.

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