Oil Probe; MPs Query Double Payment to US-Based Arbiters Top story

3458 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Uganda, through the Ministry of Justice band Constitutional Affairs contracted Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt Mosle LLP, to arbitrate a tax dispute that arose after Heritage Oil and Gas Ltd sold its stake in Ugandas oil to Tullow at a cost of USD 10 million 36 billion Shillings.

Parliament's committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) is exploring circumstances under which a United States-based Law firm could have been double paid in the controversial tax arbitration case between Uganda and Heritage Oil.

Uganda, through the Ministry of Justice band Constitutional Affairs contracted Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, to arbitrate a tax dispute that arose after Heritage Oil and Gas Ltd sold its stake in Uganda's oil to Tullow at a cost of USD 10 million (36 billion Shillings).

The same firm was contracted by Uganda Revenue Authority at a cost of 2.5 Billion Shillings to defend Uganda in the same case, which was handled by United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in a London court.

The Curtis team led by group chairman George Kahale, an international arbitration lawyer, guided Uganda to secure (USD 400 million) 1.4 trillion Shillings in capital gains tax from the sale. Other members of the team included Curtis' partners David Hesse, Galileo Pozzoli and Marco Blanco as well as associate Justin Jacinto.

But legislators are questioning the possibility that the company received payment from both the Ministry of Justice and from Uganda Revenue Authority for the same task.

The matter arose during the ongoing probe involving 42 government officials who received 6 billion Shillings as a token of appreciation for their various roles in the case.

The Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi let the cat out of the bag in an attempt to account for supplementary budget allocations and general finances in regards to the oil cash. He However said the payment could have been erroneous.

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Rujumbura County MP Fred Tumuhiirwe Turyamuweza states that it is an anomaly for two government bodies to pay the same company differently in the same matter.
 
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Committee chairperson Abdu Katuntu said the probe committee would find out the fact through summoning the officers involved to clearly explain the payments.

 

About the author

Alex Otto
“Journalism that changes lives is my goal,” Alex Otto has said on more than one occasion. That is his career’s guiding principle. Has been since he was a radio journalist in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu in 2009.

Otto passionately believes his journalism should bring to the fore the voices of the voiceless like the shooting victims of Apaa. Otto tries in his journalism to ask tough questions to those in positions of authority.

Based in the Kampala bureau, Otto is especially interested in covering agriculture, politics, education, human rights, crime, environment and business. He has reported intensively on the post-conflict situation in northern Uganda.

A URN staff member since 2014, Otto previously worked with The Observer Newspaper from 2012 to 2013 and later the Institute for War and Peace Reporting IWPR based in Gulu.

He was the URN Gulu bureau chief 2014-2016.