Special Reports

Gov’t Breaks Silence On UK Mission Shs8b Tax Fraud Saga

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unhealthy geneva;”>However, the Ministry quickly added that the culprits John Ndawula and Patrick Mbogo “used to work with the Uganda High Commission in London as members of locally recruited, non-diplomatic staff.”

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A local daily last week reported that Her Majesty the Queen’s Revenue and Customs officials were investigating the Commission office over an estimated Shs8 billion tax fraud.

It further alleged that UK officials also carried away, from the High Commission office, a computer that reportedly contained confidential briefs to President Museveni about UK’s relationship with Uganda.

“According to diplomatic sources, the computer that was used by deputy head of mission, Ambassador Isaac Sebulime, has been with the British tax officials for the last three months raising fears that all the intelligence briefs on UK by the Embassy are now in the hands of the British government,” the newspaper reported.

It added: “The computer was handed over to the Queen’s tax men by the High Commissioner, Joan Rwabyomere, after the revenue officials implicated the Ugandan diplomats in tax evasion.”

The newspaper further said that UK’s revenue officials reportedly unearthed a shady deal in which Ugandan diplomats had abused the privileges accorded to the High Commission to access tax free goods.

“After realising that the High Commission had collected duty free goods worth two million pounds [about Shs8 billion], the Queen’s revenue officials stormed the Embassy on March 27 and tasked the diplomats to explain what the High Commission needed such goods for.”

MINISTRY SPEAKS OUT

The Ministry now explains that in their individual capacities, Ndawula and Mbogo are suspected to have committed tax fraud by avoiding paying certain taxes to the UK Customs, and have already been summoned for interrogation.

“Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, only diplomats are allowed to purchase duty free goods. Investigations into these allegations are on-going with the full cooperation of the High Commission,” reads part of the statement.

“As soon as the investigations are concluded, appropriate action will be taken anybody implicated.”

The Ministry emphasises the two suspected individuals are not members of the diplomatic staff of the High Commission.

“None of the diplomatic staff has been interrogated nor has any computer belonging to the High Commission been taken by police as alleged in the story,” adds the statement.

“Contrary to the Monitor story, the High Commission premises have not been stormed since this would be contrary to established diplomatic practice. The High Commissioner is doing her work normally and is fully aware of the rules and regulations governing the Diplomatic Service,” it adds.

There have been allegations that Ambassador Joan Rwabyomere defected to UK government after seeking asylum.

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