The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: Basajjabalaba Arrested

The proverbial nine lives of businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba came to a dramatic end this evening when police arrested him at Entebbe International airport on his way out of the country.

"Yes he has been arrested. He has summons of forgery and other cases. On many occasions he had failed to honour police summons and we suspect, he was sneaking out of the country," said Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesman Ibn Ssenkumbi.

The publicist said police would address a news conference on his arrest later on.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Richard Buteera, had issued summons for Basajjabalaba over allegations of forging a consent judgment that exempted his firm, Haba group of companies, from paying taxes after government doled out a highly - inflated Shs 142bn to the businessman in a compensation payment.

The decision elicited a public uproar, which resulted into the resignation of two ministers- Khiddu Makubuya (General Duties) and Syda Bbumba (Gender) - after the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) indicted them for their role in the debacle.

The Shs 142bn compensation arose from the reversal of a Kampala City Council decision to sell three markets Nakasero, Shauriyako and St Balikuddembe (Owino) and the Constitution Square to Basajjabalaba.

The sleuths want to probe whether a consent court judgment which allegedly exempted the company from paying taxes after Basajjabalaba received compensation, was forged. Although the company was supposed to pay over Shs 900m to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), it did not pay income tax, which is now at the centre of the police investigation.

Amongst the evidence, detectives will examine whether the consent judgment submitted to evade the tax is a forgery, which would be contrary to Section 349 of the Penal Code Act. The police says it's also investigating claims of uttering false documents.

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