IGG probes fraud in Museveni case

Saturday May 4 2013




The Inspectorate of Government is investigating allegations of corruption at the Attorney General’s Chambers in a multi-billion compensation case in London involving President Museveni and a former newspaper publisher.

Details before the parliamentary Legal Committee show that Ugandan-born British national, Dr Jesse Mashate sued the President in his individual capacity seeking to enforce a £6.8m (Shs27.2b) judgement, which the Attorney General, Mr Peter Nyombi, said with 8 per cent interest dating back to 1986, and costs, brings the total as of July 2011 to £56m (Shs179b).

Mr Nyombi told the committee that in an attempt to compel the government to pay him, Dr Mashate in 2010 obtained the right to sell four government assets in UK under the supervision of Uganda Property Holdings Limited on the pretext that Mr Museveni was the owner and had beneficial interest in the properties.
The properties are 57 Edgwarebury Gardens, Middlesex, 7 Deacons Rise London N2 OBF, 48 Gainsborough Gardens N2) BF and Herman Drive, NW2 2ED.

While Mr Nyombi claims the government paid out millions of shillings in legal fees to lawyers; Edwin Coe LLP/Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) to defend the President in person and rescue the government assets, Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba produced confidential documents before the committee showing that it was Uganda Property Holdings Ltd (UPHL), that hired lawyers to salvage the assets in question.

The Saturday Monitor has seen a January 23 letter in which the managing director UPHL, Mr Martin Kihembo informed the Inspector General of Government (IGG) that they got involved in the case: Jesse Mashate Vs. Yoweri Museveni Kaguta (HQ 07 XO 1288 Claim No.2006 Folio 193) after obtaining reliable information in April 2011 that the properties under its management in London were a subject of attachment.

Case of firms
While Mr Nyombi claims that Edwin Coe LLP and Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) were involved in the case on behalf of the government, UPHL maintains that they hired Ms CKFT Solicitors of 25-26 Hampstead High Street, London to act on their behalf in saving UPHL properties.

“CKFT Solicitors were instructed to challenge the attachment of UPHL properties and not defendants in the case. It’s also important to note that UPHL paid CKFT Solicitors £70,259 (about Shs130m) being the legal fees for legal services rendered to UPHL,” Mr Kihembo said.

On January 3, Ms Irene Mulyagonja, the IGG, wrote to Edwin Coe LLP requesting for information on their alleged involvement in President Museveni case in London. In confirmation of what MPs called “double payment” in his response to the IGG letter, a one David Green, Edwin Coe Ltd Partner said: “We were instructed when Dr Mashate attempted to enforce the judgement against the property….held in the name of UPHL.”

For the same case, accountability documents presented before the committee show that KAA signed a Shs4.5b deal with the Attorney General’s Chambers—representing two per cent of the total claim (£56m) to help the main lawyer (Edwin Coe LLP) coordinate the case and that KAA has so far been paid Shs353.5m. The total bill for Edwin Coe LLP is Shs642.5m.

Although Mr Nyombi told the committee that he would present minutes from the court in London on Thursday and that it was President Museveni who brought in KAA and that his job as the Attorney General was to formalise the relationship with the external lawyers, acting on information from a whistleblower, the IGG’s office on January 23 opened investigations into the allegations of corruption.

The UK court granted Dr Mashate permission to serve the President with a notice of intent to sue on October 2, 2009, records show. Mr Nyombi said although government initially contracted three companies to defend the President, he could not trace the details.

Mr Nyombi was seeking for Shs518m to cater for expenses related to the case which is under investigation by the IGG, but the lawmakers vowed to block the request and demanded fresh investigations into the scam.