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Katureebe’s letter as AG adds new twist in Asians’ Properties probe

Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, the minister of constitutional affairs and attorney general. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA — Fresh details have emerged indicating that that some Indians could be claiming properties under the Departed Asian Property Custodian Board (DAPCB) even though the Indian government was paid by the Ugandan government to settle their compensation.

According to information before the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprise, Indians whose compensation was paid to the Indian government had no further claim in Uganda and those who received certificates of repossession when they had been compensated should have the certificates canceled as they would be getting double benefit.

In June 1997, the then Minister of Justice/Attorney General Bart M. Katureebe wrote to the then Minister of State for Finance the late Basoga Nsadhu explaining that the government of Uganda under the international law sent money to the Indian government to compensate Indians who lost their properties after being expelled by president Idi Amin.

A letter by the then Attorney General Bert. M Katureebe.

“The Indians who claim that they did not get paid by their government when in fact they were listed for payment should be advised to contact their government,” he said then.

Mr. Katureebe at the time also argued that those who fraudulently repossessed the properties when they had been compensated stood to be prosecuted. “Those who are found to have fraudulently reclaimed for which they had already been compensated, should not only lose the property but should be prosecuted subject to Direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter,” he said.

Another letter by Attorney General William Byaruhanga has revealed that the minister has no authority to investigate the property ruled on by Court.

Whereas Finance Minister Matia Kasaija was quoted by the Watchdog new agency saying he would investigate already repossessed property, Mr. Byaruhanga in a letter revealed that Supreme Court/High Court retains the authority to decide on any contested properties.

The Attorney General added that the rationale for this is primed on the assumption that divestiture committee ought to have the necessary due diligence to the satisfaction of the minister prior to the issuance of the repossession and to avoid uncertainty.

Letter by William Byaruhanga.

He noted in the instances where there maybe allegations of fraud in the repossession of the property after the minister has issued a certificate, DAPCB is stopped from interfering with the property and has no mandate to inquire into the property of a person to whom a certificate of repossession was issued.

MPs on the committee have since established that the process was marred with a lot of controversies including fraud by Custodian Board Members — vowing to thoroughly investigate and expose the mafias.

Mr. Ibrahim Kasozi who heads the Cosase sub-committee investigating the mess said that: “As a result of political interference, properties were wrongfully allocated, repossessed and sold; purchase prices were reduced below reserve prices without proper jurisdiction.”

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