A new expose by Ugandan Daily Chimp Reports newspaper has revealed that 39 government officials were awarded cash bonanzas equaling Ush6 billion (equivalent $1.65M) after winning the protracted Heritage/Tullow oil Capital Gains Tax (CGT) case.
In the case, where the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) was fighting to have Heritage oil pay $405M in capital gains tax following the $1.5B sale of assets to its partner Tullow Oil, the URA is said to have paid 39 government officials and lawyers including its Chief Executive Doris Akol $66,700 Ministry of Energy and Minerals Development permanent secretary Kabagambe Kaliisa $36600, the then Deputy Attorney General, Fred Ruhindi received $25600 and the late former Permanent Secretary Finance Ministry, Chris Kassami who received $108,000 after he had passed on.
The case which dragged through the Uganda High Court and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in London saw Heritage lose both litigations. The UNCITRAL Tribunal in the Heritage arbitration against Uganda issued a unanimous award dismissing all claims and also ordered the oil explorer to pay more than $4 million of costs incurred by Uganda in connection with the case.
Prior to the win Uganda had threatened not to consent the deal until Tullow Oil paid 30 percent of the disputed tax with the remaining amount being secured by a bank guarantee. Later the government arm twisted to releasing another amount for the renewal of the license renewal. Heritage had also logged a suit against Tullow Oil which it also lost.
In the recently released leaked ‘Panama Papers’ emails between the company and its lawyers show that Heritage Oil knew about the capital gains tax before they were imposed by the URA and instructed its lawyers to aggressively fight them.
Others on the list include:
- Former AG Peter Nyombi received $62300
- Lawrence Kiiza, official in the Ministry of Finance $28000
- Martin Mwambutsya, Attorney in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs $63900
- Ernest Rubondo, Head Directorate of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda, received $73300.
- Solicitor General, Francis Atoke $64500
- URA lawyer, Ali Ssekatawa got $66700.
- The Director of Legal Affairs at the Solicitor General’s office, Christopher Gashirabake $66700
- Honey Malinga Vice Director of the Petroleum Exploration & Production Department (PEPD) $72175
- Moses Kaggwa, a Member Commissioner for Tax Policy Ministry of Finance $64500
- Moses Kibumba, a private tax expert and former URA tax auditor, received $25600
- Moses Kajubi a former URA Commissioner, Domestic Taxes $62300
- Peter Muliisa, a URA lawyer $64500
- Rodney Golooba and Samuel Kahima lawyers with URA, received $61500 and $61700
- Harriet Lwabi Musoke an official at Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, bagged $61700 while Harriet Tukamushaba in the same office received $27300
- KCCA Director Jenifer Musisi and former head of the legal department at URA, was given $33300
- Robinah Nakakawa a commissioner at URA $66700
- Elizabeth Nakkungu from the Justice Ministry received Shs 238m.
- Principal State Attorney George Kallemera got $65600
- Syson Ainembabazi of URA legal department $59500
- Assistant Commissioner Tax Investigations, Irene Bashabe Kyomuhendo $57850
- URA Manager Customs Audit, Agnes Nabwire.
The amounts were released by authority of the Auditor General, John F.S Muwanga in November last year. A number of members of parliament have vowed to probe the transaction.