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    Why M7 Took Tough Decision to Drag Defiant Ruto Gov’t To Regional Court As Fuel Tycoons In Uganda, Kenya Fight Over Multibillion Oil Deal…

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    President Yoweri Museveni (R) in a meeting with Kenya's William Ruto (L)

    The East African Court of Justice has directed Justin Bedan Njoka Muturi the Attorney General of Kenya to file his defence in the lawsuit filed against President William Ruto’s government by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government.

    Uganda’s Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka has confirmed to theGrapevine that Kenya’s Attorney General’s Chambers has already been served with Court summons and they have 45 days from the date they received the summons to file their defense otherwise the case against them will be heard and determined in their absence.

    Kiwanuka ran to the Regional Court after the Kenyan High Court issued a conservatory order stopping the Kenya’s Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) from granting an import, export and wholesale of petroleum products license to Uganda’s Uganda National Oil Corporation (UNOC) in November 2023.

    The order was issued after  Royani Energy Limited and concerned Kenyan citizens Charles Kombo and John Kinuthia petitioned the Kenyan High Court protesting the move to allow UNOC to obtain Oil importation Certificate to import petroleum products through Kenya.

    Lawyers in Attorney General’s chambers claim that Uganda was not given the opportunity to defend themselves in the said application as an affected party even through their lawyers led by Kenyan Poul Nyamodi of V.A Nyamodi and Company Advocates and Uganda’s Ruth Sebatindira of Ligomarc Advocates.

    He further told the Regional Court that since then, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development in Uganda led by Dr. Ruth Nakabirwa Ssentamu have been seeking intervention of the Kenyan government to restrain its citizens and organs from infringing the principles of the East African Community Treaty.

    Kiwanuka’s team insist that Uganda has the right under the East African Community Treaty and the United Nations Convention especially the laws of sea as a land locked country to use the Kenyan Oil Pipeline and sea waters which Kenya is trying to violate even though it is a signatory to both treaties.

    In his suit, Kiwanuka insisted that Uganda’s reliance and dependency on Kenyan oil marketing companies to import and supply petroleum products to Uganda has exposed Uganda to supply vulnerabilities and increasing fuel pump prices.

    In the plaint, Kiwanuka wants the Regional Court to declare that Kenya unconditionally allows UNOC to use their pipeline just as they have been allowing other Regional countries and private companies.

    The Kenyan government gave conditions to Uganda which include incorporation as a subsidiary or registration of UNOC as a company or a branch in Kenya if they are to apply for an import and export or wholesale of petroleum products license if they are to allow Uganda to use their oil pipeline which Uganda’s Attorney General insisted is unnecessary and hinders the implementation of its petroleum policy.

    UNOC was also required to give a documents and a certificate of incorporation to the Kenyan government identifying all their directors and work permits with proof of financial capability.

    This was done but in September 2023, the Kenyan government rejected Uganda’s application.

    Uganda’s application was rejected on grounds that they did not prove the annual sales of 6.6 million liters of petroleum oil, ownership of five licensed retail petrol stations and ownership of the licensed petroleum depot.

    Kiwanuka told the Regional Court that Uganda made a policy that sourcing, importation and supply of petroleum products is to be handled by UNOC and shifted from the arrangement where oil marketing companies operating in Kenya import petroleum products and sell to Ugandan oil marketing companies.

    This comes months after president Museveni signed the Petroleum Supply Act which gives exclusive monopoly to UNOC as the sole importer of petroleum products in Uganda.

    Kiwanuka also in the same period signed a deal on behalf of Uganda with Vitol Bahrain to trade directly with UNOC without engaging middlemen especially those from Kenya.

    President Museveni explained that Oil prices in Uganda have been high because of these middlemen.

    However, Oil dealers in Uganda are secretly planning to challenge the Act in the Constitutional Court.

    Recently, President Ruto rubbished allegations that him and Museveni developed a big misunderstanding because of the Oil Pipeline deal and it is the reason why Museveni didn’t attend the Kenya’s Jamhuri Day celebrations.

    “Do I attend the national days of other countries? No, does that mean there is a problem? No. The relations between me and Museveni are perfect; the relationship between Kenya and Tanzania is perfect. Do they normally attend our Jamhuri day? No. How do you ask about the absence of a person who is normally absent? We didn’t invite them. Some of them came because we are East Africans,” President Ruto quotes by Kenyan media.

    Severally, Museveni has been complaining of Kenya’s unnecessary trade actions against Uganda like; Banning Ugandan milk, maize, beaf, chicken from entering the Kenyan market even though Uganda allows their products onto their market without any hindrances.

    Museveni insists that Kenya’s actions violate the objectives of the East African Community.

    In the suit at the Regional Court, Kiwanuka indicated that in October 2023, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for the energy ministry intimated to her counterpart in Uganda that the issue of Uganda using the Kenyan oil pipeline was discussed in their cabinet and EPRA was directed to review and align the petroleum import logistics arrangement in favour of Uganda, but since then, nothing has been done.

    However, Kenyan authorities have also been complaining to Uganda and pleading with President Museveni to release the 41 Kenyans who were jailed on allegations of killing three geologists and two Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) soldiers.

     

    By Grapevine Reporters

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    CRIME

    Terra Solar Energy Swiss Boss, Girlfriend Dragged To Court Over Shs19bn Fraudulent Land Deal …

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    Heimhofer's girlfriend Mariam Kajumba

    Swiss businessman David Ferdinand Heimhofer and his girlfriend Mariam Kajumba the properiator of Terra Solar Energy Limited together with the Commissioner Land Registration have been dragged to Court over a Shs19bn fraudulent land deal.

    City car dealer businessman Medad Osborn Twesigye, the proprietor of Testimony Motors Limited accuses the defendants and their company of fraudulently grabbing his land measuring 499.781 hectares comprised on Block 5 plots 623, 633 land at Kayera, Bugahya in Hoima district.

    In his suit filed at Hoima High Court, Twesigye through his lawyers led by Fred Muwema claim that in August of 2022, he was approached by a lawyer who introduced himself as Accram Luzinda and a land agent Jim Kibira who told him that they had a deal of selling his land to Ferdinand and his girlfriend.

    He later met the accused persons at Fairway Hotel Kampala where they confirmed to him that they were interested in his land since they had entered a deal with President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s government to start a solar energy project in Hoima.

    In his affidavit, Twesigye claimed that the accused persons requested him to first allow them to carry out a site survey of the land to confirm its ownership, size, soil conditions and accessibility which was done and the final report from the investigation was issued in October 2022.

    He explained that the defendants told him that they are ready to purchase his land under the names of Terra Sola Energy Limited.

    Swiss businessman David Ferdinand Heimhofer

    They even signed a Memorandum of Understanding to purchase the land at the cost of UD$5m and both parties agreed that the agreement should be valid for a period of 10 months with a two months extension.

    Twesigye explained that the said period was supposed to be used by the defendants to carry out a feasibility study to determine the suitability of the land for a solar power project which was done and the results were positive.

    They agreed that the defendants deposit to the plaintiff’s bank account a non-refundable fee of UD$100,000 as down payment before the purchase of the land was done.

    The payment was supposed to be done within 10 days from the date of signing the solar power implementation Agreement with President Museveni’s government.

    Twesigye claimed that in December 2022, the accused persons used the Memorandum of Understanding they signed with him to lodge a caveat on his land before even depositing the UD$100,000 on his bank account.

    He made a written complaint against the defendants in March 2023.

    He explained that the defendants wrote back explaining that they lodged a caveat to protect their interest in the land even though the government had delayed the process of signing the agreement with them to deposit the agreeable amount of money.

    They added that they had instructed their local engineers to conduct further studies to identify the grid capacity in Hoima and get the government to agree to the said study so as to trigger payment.

    He added that in May 2023, he instructed his lawyers to demand the defendants to remove the caveat registered on his land but they insisted that they could not remove the caveat because if they do, they were going to lose the money they had already used since they had already entered the deal.

    Twesigye told Court that in December 2023, a serious Arab investor approached him and told him that he has interest in his land.

    He added that this investor wanted to establish a sugar project.

    Twesigye narrated that he asked the defendants to remove the caveat but they refused which forced him to carry out due diligence to establish the legality of the company he was dealing with.

    In December 2023, he found out that it had paltry capital of Shs10,000,000 with no registered office or assets in Uganda.

    He further established that the company never conducts any business in Uganda as alleged by the defendants but they were using it to veil corporate personality as a mask to defraud him.

    He pleaded with court to declare that the defendants have no caveat-able interest on his land and also asked court to direct the Commissioner Land Registration to lift the caveat placed on his land.

    He also asked court to order the defendants to pay monetary compensation for lodgment of the impugned caveat on his land, general damages for material distress and inconvenience caused, exemplary damages, interest on any pecuniary award at 23% from December 2022 till the payments in full.

    The defendants have not yet filed their defense.

     

    By Hadijah Namagembe

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    MY MONEY

    MTN, Three Ways Directors Shs.9.5bn Fraud Scandal Enters Final Stage After Top Judge Rules On Case To Answer…

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    Geoffrey Baitwa one of the Managing Directors at Threeways Shipping Services (Group) Ltd.

    Justice Lawrence Gidudu the Head of the Anti-Corruption Court has directed Oscar Baitwa and Geoffrey Bihamaiso the Directors of the Jinja road based Three Ways Shipping Service Limited to defend themselves in the Shs9.5bn fraud case.

    The accused persons who are brothers are supposed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that they didn’t participate in the theft, conspiracy to defraud, obtain money by fraud and conspire to defraud Shs9.5bn as the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP) through Abigail Agaba claims.

    “The fact that the accused persons kept quiet from 2009 to 2012 while huge sums of dollars were coming in for no work done renders the accused liable as links in the chain. The two have a case to answer on all the accounts,” the nonsense judge ruled.

    According to court documents, MTN Uganda contracted Three Ways to provide forwarding and clearing services for its equipment sourced from overseas.

    In the course of business, MTN Uganda alleged that Three Ways had been paid money based on false invoices supported by fake airway bills.

    DPP claims that the accused persons connived with JP Bosabosa and Naphatali Were who were employees of MTN who pleaded guilty and asked to be allowed to negotiate with the complaint and pay some of the stolen money.

    DPP further dropped charges against Faridah Senkumba, Kafuko Wasswa who were employees of Three Ways who were earlier accused of processing the money which was paid in fraud.

    Agaba the lead prosecutor told court that Baitwa and Bihamaiso together with Oscar Baitwa Obusa were the principal signatories to the company’s bank accounts and were mandated holders of the accounts used to siphon money from MTN insisting that they participated by facilitating the exit of the stolen money.

    She added that the accused persons were the brain behind those activities of their company and were responsible for facilitating the theft of USD 3,800,000.

    She further submitted that the stolen money was moved electronically and was received by the accused’s company through their bank accounts and fraudulently processed by employees of MTN.

    She insists that the two accused persons are signatories to the said company bank accounts and benefited from the stolen money.

    “As regards the participation of the accused persons, Agaba referred to the testimony of Masanso, PW11, a fraud investigator who testified that he was called by the accused for a meeting over this case. He met them and they asked him to destroy evidence at a fee of USD 150,000 which he declined,” a judge stated.

    Agaba insisted that whether the invoices from Three Ways company were transmitted by flash disk or by email, the fact remains that they committed the offences by obtaining money without providing service to MTN.

    She told court that the entire fraud was discovered after MTN contracted Deloitte International company to do a forensic investigation according to supplier payment documents.

    However, Henry Kyalimpa the accused’s lawyer submitted that since there was a running contract between MTN and his client’s company, any money paid to the accused’s bank accounts was for service rendered.

    He told court that there was no evidence that any of the accused persons provided MTN with fictitious invoices to make payments and the DPP failed to connect the accused persons to the crime.

    He insisted that Naphtali, JP Bosabosa and all employees of MTN were the ones that processed payments from MTN, not his clients.

    Kyalimpa pinned Senkumba and Kafuko as the source of the fictitious invoices. Unfortunately, the DPP shielded them and they did not testify to implicate the accused persons.

    In conclusion, the judge stated that on the stage of a case to answer, court did not evaluate evidence to find if the accused are guilty or not.

    “It is not in dispute, at this stage, that money was processed fraudulently, using unregistered invoices from Three Ways company which were attached to bogus airway bills that were not issued by any airlines or endorsed by customs,” the judge stated.

    The judge discovered that the money under dispute is USD1,800,000 not USD 3,800,000 as MTN claims.

     

    By Grapevine Reporter

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    MY MONEY

    Panicky Bitature, Wife Carol Fly Abroad As Court Of Appeal Sets Date To Seal Their Criminal Prosecution Fate Over Shs100bn Fraud…

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    Businessman Patrick Bitature

    Troubled city tycoon Patrick Bitature and his wife Carol Bitature have travelled abroad after Court of Appeal Justice set date to seal their criminal prosecution fate in the Shs100bn fraud allegations.

    Bitature and his wife are expected to appear before Justice Hallen Obura of the Court of Appeal which also doubles as the Constitutional Court to hear their application where they are seeking permanent stay of the criminal charges slapped on them at Buganda Road Court.

    Their lawyers led by Brian Moogi and Anthony Bazira of Byenkya, Kihika and Company Advocates told court that their clients were not present in court but pleaded with the presiding justice to make her ruling before the end of this week.

    Moogi explained to Justice Obura that his client is under threat from the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) who informed Court that she took over the matter from private prosecutor Robert Kirunda and is ready to proceed with it.

    He revealed that the DPP wanted to embarrass their clients by formally bringing them into the dock, charging and remanding them to prison as criminals.

    Moogi explained to court that his clients had challenged the entire commercial agreement at the Commercial and Civil Division of the High Court insisting that it was illegal.

    He added that the Criminal Division of the High Court judge Rosette Kania didn’t give his clients the opportunity to defend themselves in the matter in which they had interest in.

    Instead they proceeded to determine it ex-part after dismissing their application to join the criminal matter Kirunda filed at the High Court challenging Buganda Road Court decision of dismissal on lack of jurisdiction.

    Justice Rosette Kania of the Criminal Division of the High Court ordered Buganda Road Court Chief Magistrate to re-instate the criminal charges against Bitature and wife after lawyer Kirunda the recognised agent and lawyer to South African based money lending company Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership.

    Moogi told Court that Buganda Road Court issued criminal summons against his clients and they are expected to appear before Ronald Kayizzi, the Chief Magistrate, to answer the criminal charges.

    theGrapevine has exclusively learnt that the embattled businessman and his wife flew out of the country to the United States then proceed to the United Kingdom on a business trip.

    However, insiders close to the businessman said that they traveled abroad to get time to rest because they were under pressure and wanted some time alone to think about the future.

    “The man is panicking. He fears to be humiliated once taken to the dock with his wife to answer criminal charges. He pleaded on phone to Ebert Byenkya to help him join Moogi, after other lawyers refused to help him because they are demanding a lot of money from him which he currently doesn’t have even though he is willing to pay them,” a source said.

    Moses Muziki, the lawyer who represented Kirunda told Court that his client is also is out of the country in California, United States handling business issues.

    Muziki protested the application to stay the proceedings of the criminal prosecution against the businessman and wife, explaining that it was overtaken by events.

    He asked for the dismissal of the application with costs.

    He insisted that the applicant didn’t have the locus-standi to appeal against a decision where he was not a party noting that if he wanted to join the matter, his prayer would have been filed at the High Court Criminal Division before it was determined.

    Moogi pleaded to Court not to proceed with the application on Tuesday morning because he was not ready since Kirunda’s lawyers served him their defence in their application on that day in the morning.

    He explained that his defense is huge and they need time to make a rejoinder and also submissions at once.

    Justice Obura directed them to file and serve their rejoinder before the close of today and promised to deliver her ruling on Friday afternoon.

    Kirunda claims that Bitature and his wife in December 2014 at Diamond Trust Building along Kampala Road through their companies of Linda Properties, Elgon Terrace Ltd and Simba Telecom borrowed Shs38bn from Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership and they offered their companies’ shares as security.

    He added that between 2019 and 2020, they both fraudulently altered shares of their companies with intent to defraud Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership of about Shs101bn.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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