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Justine Bagyenda’s Lawyer, Robert Kirunda refuses to comment on own possible role in dubious underselling of defunct banks

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An Auditor General’s report to a parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, State Authorities and State Enterprises (PAC – COSASE) investigating the closure of the defunct banks found that JN Kirkland, through a number of companies, many of which are suspected of being façades and fronts for Bank of Uganda officials, sold financial assets worth UGX135bn for a mere UGX8.9bn- a 93% discount! According to the Auditor General’s report, the assets included UGX34bn of loans that had valid, legal and equitable mortgage supported by proper legal documentation.
According to the AG, the UGX8.9bn sale price, represented 26% of the total secured loan portfolio and 7% of the total loan portfolio!


All this happened between 2005 and 2011 while Kirunda, was a Senior Legal Associate at JN Kirkland.
So when this reporter, asked Robert Kirunda on Twitter, to clarify on whether he had a role to play in this shadowy deal- Kirunda played dumb, now for 5 days, despite the fact that he has been active on twitter.


Kirunda who is known to have very strong views on government corruption also declined to respond to this reporters inquiries sent to his official email address, as well as his known Whatsapp and Twitter messaging inboxes. This reporter, asked Kirunda, who during the parliamentary probe, represented Justine Bagyenda, if, assuming he had any role to play in the deal, he had ever interacted with Bagyenda and Benedict Sekabira- the BoU Officials various named by a parliamentary probe on the matter for the mismanaging the particular assets sale.


He also declined to respond to this, regardless of a reminder.
Details: How JN Kirkland is believed to have conspired with BoU officials to profit from defunct banks’ asset sale.


According to investigations by this magazine and according to details available from the that in or around 2006, Bank of Uganda officials- mainly Justine Bagyenda and Benedict Sekabira hired JN Kirkland to advise them on how to dispose of assets of the defunct International Credit Bank (ICB), Greenland Bank and Cooperative Bank. It is not clear how BoU arrived at JN Kirkland, a firm founded in 2005, but accordingly, it is JN Kirkland, acting as an exit strategy external consultant for the central bank that identified a US company, Octavian Advisors, a US hedge fund, said to be specializing in distressed investments; itself founded in 2005, who agreed to buy the bad loan book.
Octavian Advisors would incorporate a company known as M/S Nile River Acquisition Company (NRAC)- in Mauritius on the 26th September 2007- just two months before they acquired the assets, on 24th November 2007 from Bank of Uganda.
The assets amounting to UGX135 billion at $5.25m- UGX8.9bn at the time (USD1= UGX1,710 in November 2007).


According to the Auditor General’s report, this transaction, occasioned the shareholders of the defunct banks, up to UGX126 billion in losses. Although Bagyenda tried to justify the sale price saying that many of the assets were bad, the Auditor General said that the UGX135bn, included UGX34 bn of loans that had valid, legal and equitable mortgage supported by proper legal documentation and concluded that the UGX8.9bn sale price, represented 26% of the total secured loan portfolio and 7% of the total loan portfolio.


But perhaps, the sale price is not the biggest problem- the problem lies in the details of how the transaction was layered- ultimately ending back at the doorsteps of JN Kirkland as a beneficiary from the very same transaction they were hired to advise on, for the owners of the law firm and companies linked to them would later be found in possession of land titles, previously used as collateral on some of the bad loans.


First of all, the details of how BoU reached at NRAC as a final buyer are shadowy and so was the valuation of the assets before sale. Bagyenda the sacked former Executive Director of Bank Supervision under whose regime most of the dirty selling happened, would later tell parliament that the price was reached at after what she called “desk estimation”!
In what appears to be a carefully constructed scheme, immediately after acquiring the assets at a give-away price, on 31st of December 2007, NRAC executed a power of attorney to M/S SIL Investments – a company only registered in Uganda just a month before, on 16th November 2007, to collect debts on its behalf!


More suspiciously, the registered physical address for SIL Investments was Greenland Towers, the then registered offices for JN Kirkland & Associates.
During an earlier investigation into the matter, by this reporter, one of the lawyers who represented SIL Investments on several of the loan recovery cases, intimated to this reporter that all legal instructions from SIL originated from JN Kirkland & Associates’ founding partner, a one Kakembo Katende.
At the time, Kakembo, the Robert Kirunda’s boss, did not pick up our calls and declined to respond to Whatsapp inquiries on the matter, despite having read them.


Interestingly, Octavian Advisors closed in 2012, over what it said was a difficult operating environment. Nonetheless SIL investments continued recovering the bad loans.
Octavian deal murky, SIL-NRAC deal fraudulent


The parliamentary probe into o the closure of defunct banks concluded that “the transaction between Bank of Uganda and Miss Octavian Advisors Plc. and her agents lacked transparency and officers involved should be held responsible for commissions and/or omissions which resulted in not marshalling the greatest amount of the assets of the distressed financial institutions.”
The committee further recommended that “the officers involved should be held responsible for conflict of interest,” and more importantly, the “fraudulent business activities being conducted by M/s SIL Investment on behalf of a non-existent Nile River Acquisition Company (NRAC) should immediately cease.”
“The Inspector General of Police is required immediately, on adoption of this report, to seize all the land titles in possession of Mr. Kakembo Katende of JN Kirkland and Associates and M/s SIL Investment arising from their management of the loan portfolio sold to Nile River Acquisition Company by Bank of Uganda,” ordered the committee.
“M/s SIL Investments and Mr Kakembo Katende should render an account to the public trustee of all monies received from the time Nile River Acquisition Company ceased” and that “the agency of M/s SIL Investments Limited cannot legally exist upon dissolution of the principal – that is Nile River Acquisition Company,” further concluded the committee.


Was Kirunda an innocent employee or is he playing Omerta-code silence?


Robert Kirunda has since left JN Kirkland and is a co-founding Partner at Kirunda & Wasige Advocates of the firm through whom he represents Bagyenda.
Robert Kirunda has since left JN Kirkland and is a co-founding Partner at Kirunda & Wasige Advocates of the firm through whom he represents Bagyenda. It is also likely that, he possibly did not know much about this deal and his representation of Bagyenda was merely coincidental, but he won’t say nothing, preferring to keep an Omerta-code silence.
Even when we asked him whether he found a moral dilemma and or conflict of interest in representing Bagyenda over a matter in which he, was likely party to by virtue of his former employment, he did not respond.
Neither did he respond to our question in regard to the fact that following the parliamentary probe and the Auditor General’s report that revealed that the assets of the three banks had been grossly undervalued to the detriment of the shareholders, if he had any regret, he did not respond as well.
Nearly a year has gone by since parliament promised to take action on parliament’s report and nothing has happened, in which case we are likely to never know the full truth and major questions will still linger.


For example, did JN Kirkland actually buy the bad assets for themselves through Sil Investments, but used Octavian Advisors and NRAC Company as mere smokescreens? If so, was JN Kirkland working on its own or was it representing some powers that be in Bank of Uganda. If yes, who are these people? Did the officials at BoU, then deliberately under-price the bad assets of the failed banks so as to privately benefit once the recovery had been done?


Robert Kirunda, as a former Senior Legal Associate at JN Kirkland surely has some of these answers to these questions. And he, just like his former boss, will possibly not respond ever to our inquiries, or will like most lawyers prefer to do, respond with threats to sue this publication and could actually go ahead and sue and life will move on for the former shareholders of the defunct banks.
The sun will rise and set and it will be another day of justice delayed.

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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