16 February 2017

Uganda: Cosase Wants Ruling That Led to Presidential Handshake

The Parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises has ordered the Solicitor General Francis Atooke to hand in all court documents relating to the judgment ruling and award of the Capital Gains Tax Case (CGT) against Heritage Oil and Gas in London.

This comes after Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) officials while appearing before the committee kept referring to confidentiality of the ruling as the reason as to why they could not provide it to parliament.

The Aruu South Member of Parliament Samuel Odonga Otto earlier told the committee that there was no case won by the government of Uganda, and that the case was settled out of court.

The chairperson of the committee Abdul Katuntu says that the documents of the case should be sent to the speaker and it is from there that the committee will decide to what extent the ruling is confidential.

"Speaking confidentiality means that you don't disclose to unauthorized persons but the Uganda Revenue Authority officials told us that the same judgment was being relied upon by many courts and tribunals because it was the first of its kind. So, we want to look that judgement,"said Katuntu.

Ruhindi says did normal work

The different officers from the attorney general's office also described their individual roles in the case and the former attorney general Fred Ruhindi informed the committee that he did not perform any extra ordinary work to deserve a presidential handshake.

"I did not perform any extra ordinary work, except preparing myself to step in whenever called upon by boss then the attorney general Peter Nyombi" said Ruhindi.

Ruhindi also admitted before the committee that it was unethical to solicit for money from the president for performing his role. However, maintaining that it is the president himself who initiated the "presidential handshake" in a meeting held on 17th May 2015 at his home in Rwakitura

"Honorable chairman, Article 98 and 99 of the Constitution, allows the President as the fountain of honour and Head of the Executive to award exemplary service and ethical performance.

He told the committee that he was not remorseful over the 100m he received saying that even though he did not play any major role, he was part of the team that won an unprecedented case in London.

The team that appeared before the committee also included the deputy solicitor general Christopher Gashirabake.

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