18 December 2012

Uganda: Swiss Firm Sues Security Head

A deputy director in the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) Maj Gen Taban Amin, also son of ex-president Idi Amin, has been sued over a purportedly botched $1m (sh2.6b) gold deal.

The civil suit was filed at the High Court in Kampala on December 13 by Luxemburg registered Switzerland-based Company Cosbet Lux S.A. Taban was jointly sued with his lawyer Hannington Tayebwa of Masiko and Company Advocates.

Through its lawyers, the company alleges that the money was fraudulently obtained. It is seeking a refund, and a court declaration that Taban's purported action is unbecoming of a high ranking Government officer of his stature.

"An order that the first defendant (Taban) indemnifies the plaintiff company against its loss. An order that the first defendant discloses the true and correct identity of the people involved in fleecing the plaintiff company," the plaint states.

Court documents state that the company's woes started this year in July. The plaint notes that the president of the company, the Italian Terzo Betella was approached by fellow countryman the chairman of the Italian and Congolese cooperation Paolo Urbano.

The plaint says the compatriots discussed trading in gold. Urbano purportedly informed Betella that Taban had 620 kilogrammes of gold for sale.

The company agents in Uganda Francesco Abruzzo and Guiseppe Galli, together with Betella met Taban at Cassia Hotel in the upscale city suburb of Munyonyo.

It is stated that Taban was given $25,000(about sh60m) for fuel to travel to Arua to collect the gold. The plaint states that the company agents then travelled to Arua airfield, where samples of gold were tested and found to be genuine.

The company claims it then agreed to buy 20 kilogrammes, and paid $55,000(about sh143m), inclusive of both tax and air bills. The plaint says the money was meant for use to transport the gold to Dubai, where the company president had formed a company to handle the transaction.

But the company alleges that it was told that Uganda Revenue Authority, declined to clear the 20kilogrammes, and wanted all the 620 kilogrammes of gold be paid for. The company claims it then wired $756,000(about sh1.96b) to the account of Tayebwa at Standard Chart Bank in Uganda.

Court has ordered Taban and Tayebwa to file their defences within 15 days. In the summons dated December 13, 2012, the court's civil division registrar Eudes Keitirima has asked the duo to heed, lest judgement is passed in their absence.

The case file has been allocated to Justice Elizabeth Musoke. However, a hearing date is yet to be fixed.

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