24 November 2016

Uganda: Arms Deal - Investigators Contact Conned Polish Company

Photo: Morgan Mbabazi/The East African
Uganda's military tanks (file photo).

Kampala — A team of police and military intelligence has contacted the Polish company that lost Shs2 billion in a procurement scam involving UPDF soldiers in an arms deal investigation.

The army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, told Daily Monitor on Tuesday that the probe team will soon set a date when the owners of the company will travel to Uganda.

He said the investigators are in touch with the representatives of the Polish firm.

He, however, was noncommittal on reports that some members of the probe team were already in Poland to meet the representatives of BMP Poland SP. Z.o.o. Sources say the Director General of External Security Organisation [ESO], Mr Julius Ocwet, and other senior police and military intelligence officers were already in Warsaw, Poland.

Not aware

Asked to confirm this development, Col Ankunda said he was not aware, adding: "I don't know [when they will be leaving]. They need to first plan, but they will explore every opportunity to establish the truth."

In September last year, BMP Poland SP Z.o.o was conned of more than Shs2b by Capt Ronald Muhoozi, a UPDF officer and an aide-de-camp Gen Salim Saleh and a one Sam Simbwa, who have since been arrested in connection with this scam. These two and others still at large allegedly passed themselves off as contacts to the Ministry of Defence's procurement unit in meetings with officials from BMP Poland SP. Z.o.o .

They were paid Euros520,000 on the pretext that they would help the Polish company secure a deal to supply arms to UPDF.

The suspects are reported to have convinced BMP Poland SP. Z.o.o. that they were representatives of an alleged Defence ministry affiliate (Prima Investments Uganda) for the supply body armour and anti-riot equipment.

No comment

The chief executive officer of BMP Poland SP Z.o.o, Mr Marek Celer, told Daily Monitor on phone from Poland that he would not talk to the media about the issue until investigations are concluded. "I cannot say anything until the investigations are complete," Mr Celer said.

This shady company, Prima Investments Uganda, also claimed to have been contracted by the Defence ministry to find a company that could supply 375 tanks specified as T-54, T-55, T-72, T-90s; a number of PT-76 amphibious tanks; assorted BMP infantry fighting vehicles; 46 Ferret and Eland light armour reconnaissance cars and six self-propelled artillery pieces.

It is through this front that they then received the equivalent of more than Shs2b for the purported 'consultancy' services.

The false bid documents used in the rip-off were signed by a so-called Brig Akello Okuta posing as head of procurement, ministry of Defence.

There have been media reports naming Army Chief of Staff (Land Forces), Brig Leopold Kyanda, as a person of interest in this matter.

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