Uganda: Kutesa's Foreign Business Revealed

Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kahamba Kutesa
6 November 2017

Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa explains why he set up a business in Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

"It is true," he says of two investments in the leaked Paradise Papers linked to him.

Uganda Revenue Authority says it requires time to "study" if the minister's companies in Uganda are tax compliant.

Details from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists Paradise Papers database

Sam Kahamba Kutesa is Uganda's foreign minister and was president of the United Nations General Assembly during its 2014-2015 session.

Kutesa created the Obuyonza Discretionary Trust in the Seychelles in 2012. The trust held shares in the Seychelles company Katonga Investments Ltd. He created the trust, watched over its administration and was one of its beneficiaries. Kutesa's daughter, Ishta, also is listed as a beneficial owner as well as a future recipient of money from the trust. An internal Appleby document from 2015 reported that the company's intended activities were "consultancy, investments, trading and airport services in Uganda."

The money for Katonga was to come from Enhas Uganda Ltd., another Kutesa entity, Appleby's notes state. Kutesa has owned Enhas, a ground-handling service at Uganda's Entebbe Airport, since the 1990s.

In 1998, a Ugandan parliamentary committee named Kutesa and another co-owner in a report criticizing the privatization that helped create Enhas and led to its lucrative airport contract. The report concluded that the privatization had been "manipulated and taken advantage of by a few politically powerful people who sacrifice the people's interests."

As part of a periodic review in 2015, Appleby labeled Kutesa's companies a "high risk," given his political role and media reports of alleged corruption and bribery involving Kutesa. Kutesa told Appleby that the purpose of the trust was to separate his government income "from his personal assets and belongings." In 2015, however, Appleby noted that the companies connected to the trust were dormant and that "it seems that nothing such is being done."

Response
Kutesa confirmed to ICIJ's media partner in Uganda, The Daily Monitor, that he established the companies, but "I have never done anything with it at all. I told Appleby to close it many years ago." He said he had registered a company in Uganda and is paying taxes. "I thought you could avoid, not evade, taxes but I found it was not practical, and unnecessary," Kutesa told the Daily Monitor. "I don't have anything to hide."

Disclaimer
There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly. Many people and entities have the same or similar names. We suggest you confirm the identities of any individuals or entities located in the database based on addresses or other identifiable information. If you find an error in the database please get in touch with us.

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