Uganda: MPs Demand Files On 300 Asians Properties

The Departed Asians Properties' Custodian Board (DAPCB) has up to July 14 to compile information on more than 300 properties that are under the management of businessman Praful Chandra Patel whose possession is under probe.

Mr Patel and his lawyer, Mr Paul Ssebunya, appeared before a taskforce of the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) yesterday to defend the ownership of the properties.

"This committee needs to handle and finish the issue of Mr Patel as soon as possible. The condition to the Custodian Board is that you photocopy the files of each property so that we handle everything on July 14," Mr Ibrahim Kasozi (Makindye East, FDC), the taskforce chairperson, said.

Another demand

The taskforce demanded that Mr Patel returns on the same day with all the powers of attorney, which he claims were issued to him by the original proprietors of the properties in question.

By the time of the adjournment yesterday, the taskforce had only received Mr Patel's submission on only four properties with only one - Plot 66 Oboja Road in Jinja District dropped.

Mr Ssebunya told MPs that his client had a repossession certificate and powers of attorney issued to him by all the five proprietors who owned the property as tenants in common.

However, the legislators still want to investigate the circumstances under which only one of the five proprietors signed general powers of attorney on five other properties formerly owned by the same people.

The properties are Plot 52 Kira Road, Plot 32 Madhvani Road, Plot 3 Martin Road, Plot 64 and Plot 7 on Oboja Road all in Jinja.

When he last appeared before the taskforce on March 12, Mr Patel said he had only 20 properties that he manages on behalf of the owners who were expelled by President Idi Amin in 1972. At the time, the MPs told him to produce the management contracts, the evidence of remittance of rent to the owners and also the tax clearances when he returns to Parliament on March 24.

He could not return then because all accountability committees of Parliament were halted as a measure to contain the spread of Covid-19.

In March, 50 properties attributed to the name of Mr Patel in the Custodian Board registry were handled.

He told the MPs that he had picked repossession certificates for at least 39 of the 50 properties handled then but he could not divulge details concerning his legal status with the original proprietors.

Mr Ssebunya said Mr Patel did not repossess all the properties as an individual because others were repossessed under the auspices of the Indian association.

Mr Patel argued that his signature had been forged by unscrupulous people in DAPCB during the 1990s when most of the repossession of the properties was done.

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