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Justice Ministry Fails to Account for Over UGX 1 Billion Oil Cash

These include an expenditure of 726 million Shillings for which vouchers for activities ranging from 2012-2016.cannot be traced and a payments of 290 million Shillings, part of which was received by one signatory on behalf of 12 recipients. The committee observed that in some cases, acknowledgement lists have been attached but the officers who signed for the money are not stated.

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The Ministry of Justice has failed to account for over 1 billion Shillings, part of the supplementary expenditure it received to facilitate an oil arbitration case between the Ugandan Government and Heritage Oil Ltd.

The Ministry was part of a multi-institutional team set up to defend Uganda in an appeal filed by Heritage oil before the London based United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Tribunal. The oil giant claimed that the Ugandan government had wrongly slapped a tax on the gain realized from the sale of its stake to Tullow oil in two Production Sharing Agreements.

The ministry team, headed by the Attorney General, provided research and legal assistance in the arbitration process, through which the country secured USD 400 million (1.4 trillion Shillings) in capital gains tax.  The ministry spent 50 billion Shillings in the process.

But Parliaments committee on Commissions, State Authorities and Statutory Enterprises, directed for an audit of all funds extended to the Ministry. However, during the process, up to five billion shilling could not be accounted for.

Solicitor General Francis Atoke appeared before the committee today in a bid to avail supporting documents and vouchers in relation to the queries raised. However, expenses amounting to 1 billion Shillings still had no supporting documents.

These include an expenditure of 726 million Shillings for which vouchers for activities ranging from 2012-2016.cannot be traced and a payments of 290 million Shillings, part of which was received by one signatory on behalf of 12 recipients.  The committee observed that in some cases, acknowledgement lists have been attached but the officers who signed for the money are not stated.

Acting committee chair Fred Tumuhiirwe said that the receipts are suspicious.

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The solicitor General Francis Atoke on his part however stated that they would need more time to get all the supporting documents as required by the committee. He however acknowledges that some disbursements where made in a rush.

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The Committee also questioned per-diem payments which were over and above the official Government rates. Over 158 million shillings was given out erroneously as per diem to eight officers of the ministry to cover a period of 12 days in the United Kingdom.

For each day the officers are entitled to per diem ranging from USD 360 (1.2 million Shillings) to USD 450  (1.5 million Shillings) But for the 12 days, the then Attorney General Peter Nyombi received USD 12,865 (45 million Shillings) instead of the standard (USD 6,000) 21 million Shillings.

Another recipient Robinah Rwakoojo received USD 7,540 (26 million Shillings) instead of USD 5,400(19 million Shillings). Elizabeth Nakkungu received USD 6,820 (24 million Shillings) instead of USD 4,680 (16 million Shillings) and Henry Oluka received USD 6,460 (23 million Shillings) instead of USD 4,320 (15 million Shillings) among others.

Francis Atoke, the Solicitor General on his part however stated that he did not know why it was that way, but emphasized that it could have included the cost of warm clothing and communication.