2 January 2013

Uganda: DPP Okays Forgery Charges Against Basajja

City tycoon Hassan Basajjabalaba is to be charged with forging a court judgement to evade tax, the Director of Public Prosecutions has revealed. Richard Butera told New Vision on Tuesday that he had already okayed the criminal charges against the tycoon and that Police are looking for him so as to produce him in court.

Basajjabalaba, under the Penal Code, faces a 10-year jail term if he is convicted of forging judicial or official documents. Additionally, he also faces an equivalent jail ter tm for allegedly uttering the forged documents.

Butera said he has sanctioned forgery charges against Basajjabalaba after a rigorous investigation into the case. Basajjabalaba allegedly forged a consent judgment between his company, Haba Group of Companies and the Attorney General.

Haba Group, in the purported consent judgment represented four of Basajjabalaba's companies namely: Sheila Investments (U), First Merchant International Trading Co., Victoria International and Yudaya International.

The court has since disowned the said judgment and in July 2012, threw out Basajja's application against the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). He had accused the tax body of insisting on taxing him despite the consent agreement that shielded him.

According to him, the consent judgment was entered in on October 6, 2010 and was allegedly filed by the court registrar on the same day. He claimed that in the judgment, the Attorney General, in accordance with a directive from President Yoweri Museveni, agreed to pay compensation to him (Basajja) and among other things, agreed that "the above sums shall not be subjected to any taxes levied or reduced by URA or its agents in any way."

Justice Eldad Mwanguhya threw out Basajja's application last year, noting that court needed to look at the records, detailing the consent judgment before ruling whether URA action was right or wrong, but failed because the record "simply does not exist in the registry".

The judge then relied on the written evidence of the registrar, civil division of the High Court who stated that the consent judgment did not originate from there.

"The affidavit sworn by the applicant is riddled with falsehood as there was never any consent judgment entered and what is on record is a forgery as the registrar, High Court Civil Division, confirmed.." Justice Mwanguhya stated.

Basajja's woes originated from the sh142b that he received from the Government as compensation for the city markets. The authenticity of this money is also being contested by the Government.

URA sought to tax the said compensation at sh20,121,239,094, which Basajjabalaba refused to do. When the tax body insisted on recovering the taxes and even froze Basajjabalaba's business accounts where the compensation was banked, he ran to court pleading existence of a protective consent judgment.

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