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URA’s Akol, beneficiaries for more grilling in Oil cash bonanza investigation

The Abdu Katuntu led- Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) is today set to once again grill Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner General Doris Akol and her top management team over a presidential golden handshake of Shs6 billion.

Ms Akol, who appeared as the first witness before the committee, last week tabled another list that was initiated by the then Attorney General Fredrick Ruhindi but Katuntu’s committee has insisted she presents the real list of the people who shared the money as Parliament carries out wide-ranging formal inquiries into the dubious payments.

Ms Akol who says she is innocent in her first appearance kick-started the demand for the money and later superintended distribution of the Shs6 billion christened the ‘presidential handshake’ will be of particular interest to the inquiries.

Despite putting the blame on Mr Ruhindi, Akol last week failed to account for the beneficiaries she added on, amid criticism from MPs that she “smuggled in her friends”.

Ms Akol faced tough questions in explaining how the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director Jenniffer Musisi was included in the category of core beneficiaries yet she was at URA just at the inception of the case.

The Uganda Vs Tullow Oil case was filed in 2010 and Ms Musisi, who was the URA director of legal services and board affairs, left the tax body in January 2011. The committee will want to know what role she played in a few months she was a URA employee to be entitled to Shs200m as a core beneficiary.

Embattled Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner General Doris Akol has told Parliament’s Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) that it was the Attorney General then Hon Fred Ruhindi, who first wrote to President Museveni

She Parliament’s committee that will investigate how 42 unidentified government officials spent Shs52b to handle two key oil-related cases and later shared a presidential golden handshake of Shs6 billion that Hon. Ruhindi did the reminding of Museveni of his promise to reward the Uganda select team that helped URA trounce Oil Company Heritage in the London court case, to rake home up to USD 434 Million in Capital Gains Tax.

“Ruhindi letter was the very first one to the President. He humbly requested the president to consider a reward as promised in 2014 for the team for its exemplary service to the country,”  Akol said.

She added: “After Attorney General’s letter,  Museveni  invited us at his country home in Rwakitura and directed me to propose the amount.”

Doris Akol (in green) with a team of top management from URA appearing before COSASE Committee to explain their roles.

The Shs6b has stirred controversy and clashed government branches, with the Judiciary sucked in when the Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma banned an imminent Parliament investigation into the matter, prompting the Speaker to suspend Parliament and protest to the President. Ms Kadaga slammed Justice Kavuma’s order as ‘stupid’ and warned of “extremism” in the Judiciary while the President warned MPs that the legislature is not God.

Other top government officials lined up for investigation are Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi, KCCA executive director Jennifer Musisi, Deputy Solicitor General Christopher Gashirabake and the Unra executive director Allen Kagina.