120 Properties of Departed Asians Repossessed Despite Gov’t Compensation

“Persons found to have fraudulently reclaimed properties for which they had already been compensated should not only lose the property but also be prosecuted for misrepresentation, obtain property by false pretence and fraudulent acquisition of property,” the report reads.
some of the properties of the departed Asians
Several properties of departed Asians have been repossessed despite their full compensation by the Government, the Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has revealed. The subcommittee chaired by Ibrahim Kasozi, the Makindye East legislator has been investigating mismanagement of properties left behind by Asians following their expulsion by the late former President Idi Amin Dada. 

The committee report indicates that some Asians have reclaimed properties that were fully compensated by the Government, while other Asians claim that they weren’t paid. During their investigations, the Committee members found out that some properties that were compensated by the Government ended up in the hands of unscrupulous individuals who later transferred them to buyers without notice.  

These include among others plot 66 William Street, Plot 6 Princes Drive Bugolobi, Plot 45 Lake Drive  Nakawa port bell, Plot 34 Madvhani road Jinja,  plot 3 school drive Mbale, Plot 50 High street Mbarara, Plot 16 B Old Kampala Road, Plot 36 Tufnell drive Kampala, Plot 31 Soroti Avenue in Soroti, and Plot 38-44 school road Arua.  

Others are plot 19 Nakasero road, Kampala, Plot 6 Entebbe Road Kampala, plot 68/70 Kira road Kampala and plot 21 school road Tororo among others.  According to the committee report, there is no legal claim on the properties that were compensated. “A formerly compensated owner who wishes to repossess the property from the Government could only do so by first refunding Government the full value of compensation before applying to repossess,” says the committee report. 

According to the committee, the handover report of the Divestiture Committee of the custodian board of January 2006 further revealed that compensation was still ongoing as the Government had not fixed a deadline for receiving applications for the same. As of December 2005, 119 Asians had been compensated to the tune of Shillings 1.7 billion. The committee also says that all Ugandans of Asian descent who received compensation through the Indian Government or United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have no further claim in Uganda.  

“Persons found to have fraudulently reclaimed properties for which they had already been compensated should not only lose the property but also be prosecuted for misrepresentation, obtain property by false pretence and fraudulent acquisition of property,” the report reads. The committee also found that 1,524 properties were sold off raising Shillings 15billion. The sales were from 1993 when the Divestiture Committee commenced the exercise of repossession and sale of expropriated properties.

The committee further noted that although the Board stated that the money collected from the sales would be utilized for compensation of claims and daily operation of the board, there was no proper accountability for the funds over the years. The Committee also noted that the Government of Uganda operated a bank account No. 80206105 in Barclays bank Isle of Man, United Kingdom (UK) through which, the expelled elderly Asians were compensated.

The account had a running balance of Shillings 1 billion at the time, but to date, this amount cannot be traced or accounted for by the board. The report also indicates that the board failed to collect rent from 1973 to 2000 amounting to Shillings 2.2 billion from properties occupied by Government agencies. The committee also notes that there is no property register for the departed Asian property to date.

The committee has recommended that government expedites the efforts to wind up the Board and compiles a comprehensive asset register of all properties across the country to help reconcile records so as to confidently and reliably ascertain all expropriated properties and the proceeds accrued from sale and disposal thus far. The committee also found out that most properties were obtained by letter rather than the certificate of repossession.

Up to 47 properties were repossessed by a letter other than a certificate. “Indeed, the Committee found that a number of agents who repossessed on behalf of their principals transferred these properties without a required instrument, which by law is, the certificate of repossession that confers powers to transfer to former owners,” the committee notes. They cite plot 14 C Martin Road, Kampala FRV 78 Folio 19 where a letter of repossession was used to transfer the property.

The fraudsters reportedly processed special certificates of the title they used to alter the register and consequently transfer titles based on a forgery.  Also, the committee noted that the requirement to physically return to Uganda under section 9 of the Expropriated Properties Act (EPA) was mandatory but some properties were repossessed and certificates handed over to persons who never returned to Uganda contrary to the law.

The committee cites the properties repossessed by Balbinder Singh who reclaimed properties belonging to M/S Sikh Saw Mills. The committee recommends that all properties that were repossessed without the physical appearance of the claimants as required by law are returned to the government. They also want all transfers of ownership that were done on the basis of letters of repossession revoked and the same regularized by the acquisition of the repossession certificates.

The committee also recommends that all properties whose repossession were recalled by Government in the gazette and are currently being rented by the government itself including but not limited to Plot 1 Parliamentary Avenue among others should be allocated to the Government agencies.

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