New details have emerged pointing to the involvement of a prominent Kampala businessman in a Shs1.5 billion pay-off for the controversial seven plots of land, amounting to three acres on Esmail Road in Mbuya, a Kampala suburb.
The property was repossessed by the Esmail Family who were expelled by former President Idi Amin and are now living in Canada.
This newspaper is withholding the identity of the businessman as it gathers further details. Attempts to contact the businessman have not been successful as several text messages and calls to his known telephone numbers have been ignored.
Daily Monitor has obtained details of a local funds transfer dated June 15 and an international funds transfer dated June 22 from accounts held by Ms Agnes Mbabazi Kabwisho to an account held by the Departed Asians’ Property Custodian Board (DAPCB), which is under the Finance Ministry.
Ms Kabwisho received the money after two separate transfers from a Standard Chartered Bank account in the name of the businessman were made to her Ugandan and British bank accounts. The businessman also made another payment, on March 15, to the same DAPCB account through an international transfer but details of this payment are still not available.
Gender Minister Syda Bbumba, while still Finance Minister, authorised the sale of the property 14 years after it was re-possessed. In her May 9 letter, Ms Bbumba approved the applications of Mr Joseph Konyen and nine other persons to purchase the land divided into seven plots at a value stipulated by a valuer.
Less than a month after Ms Bbumba’s letter, Ms Kabwisho paid for the property, apparently on behalf of Mr Konyen and others. Ms Kabwisho’s current whereabouts are still unknown.
It is still not clear why payments were made to DAPCB when a minister authorised the sale of what was said to be unclaimed Asian property. Ideally, payments would be made to the Consolidated Fund.
Court last week ordered the arrest of seven people allegedly occupying the property. The seven had been previously detained over alleged possession of army hardware.
The Esmail Family raised several complaints with Uganda’s ambassador to Canada, the World Bank, the Canadian High Commission in Kenya and the Canadian Ministry of Economic Development over attempts by “powerful and influential” people to occupy the property.
Family lawyer Charles Odere also petitioned President Museveni over the matter.
In February, Maj. Leonard Chemonges, the senior presidential adviser for Political Affairs, wrote to police chief Kale Kayihura asking him to handle the case mindful of government’s will to return Asian properties.O