New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: URA Tracks Fake Registered Vehicles

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) is tracking vehicles that were fraudulently registered and are not paying taxes.

Unfortunately, vehicle owners may not know whether their vehicles paid full taxes or not because most people who buy cars from car bonds, do not cross check with URA to find out if the cars were properly registered.

URA recently discovered some people successfully hacked into its database and registered cars without paying taxes.

The manager software engineering, Rose Mary Kisembo, said hackers gained unlimited access to the tax body database and fraudulently registered over 1,000 vehicles.

"But the number of vehicles could be higher because others are still under investigations," she said.

Mary Kamuli, a State Attorney, said already, over 30 vehicles with fake registration numbers have been impounded.

"Someone may forge the registration number of a vehicle through a computer system but the physical registration file still remains with URA and it can easily be verified.

She said: "Every motor vehicle has got a physical file at the time an individual acquires a particular motor vehicle with details such as receipt of tax payment, customs clearance documents and an application for registration." Kamuli added

She warned anyone whose car is part of this racket with forged vehicle registration will have to pay taxes and they will be prosecuted, unless they can prove that they were duped, and provide the clearing agent who registered the car.

Many Ugandans do not verify the registration of their cars. The usual practice is to pay a clearing agent to process all documents and produce a card thereafter.

During inspection at Mbarara customs station, it was noted that a Mercedes Benz number UAJ 909B (Chassis number WDB2110611A178741 and engine number 1129133143310 0) in the name of Kiberu Collins Richard, shared a number plate with another motor vehicle Toyota Corsa (Chassis EL 43-7007821 and engine number 5E-6034107).

But, according to the latest Auditor General's report, the URA system cleared the Corsa because the fraudsters added a dot at the end to differentiate it from the Benz. The Corsa was registered in the name of Ronnie Hakiiza, assigned a log book number LB146603, and released without paying the due taxes.

Auditors at URA say, this fraudulent registration has been going on for years. Hackers were able to change the existing car number plates which had already been registered.

Four suspects are on trial in the Anti-Corruption Court for allegedly hacking into URA computerised systems, database and servers.

They are also accused of releasing goods that had not paid customs taxes thereby causing financial loss of sh2,164,833,894 to the government. The suspects are, Guster Nsubuga, Farouk Mugere Ngobi, Patrick Owora and Robinhood Byamukama.

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