Maj Gen Jim Katugugu Muhwezi, the minister of security in the Ugandan government, has been named among thousands of wealthy and powerful individuals who are reportedly hiding their wealth in offshore accounts, according to leaked Pandora Papers.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has released the Pandora Papers after months of months of review of 11.9 million records from 14 different offshore services firms .
The aim of the review was to expose the filthy rich who amass wealth through corruption, evade taxes and hide their loot in foreign offshore accounts.
According to Pandora Papers, 336 current and former politicians from about 200 countries and territories, including Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Jordanian King Abdallah, had opened secret accounts in order to hide wealth.
These individuals — envoys, cabinet ministers, heads of state and other public officials — run 956 companies in offshore havens.
The companies are mostly established in the British Virgin Islands.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that at least $11.3tn was held in offshore accounts in 2020 alone.
Pandora Papers also reveal that commercial banks aided the set up of up to 3,926 offshore companies.
According to ICIJ, “for a few hundred or a few thousand US dollars, offshore providers can help clients set up a company whose real owners remain hidden. Or, for perhaps USD 2,000 to USD 25,000, they can set up a trust that, in some instances, allows its beneficiaries to control their money while embracing the legal fiction that they don’t control it – a bit of paper-shuffling creativity that helps shield assets from creditors, law enforcement and ex-spouses.”
MINISTER MUHWEZI AND PANDORA PAPERS
Now, Minister Muhwezi has been named in the Pandora Papers, the largest data leak that comes years after others such as the Paradise Papers and Panama Papers which revealed that former foreign affairs minister Sam Kahamba Kutesa and his children ran several offshore accounts.
The leaked papers claim Minister Muhwezi owned and held shares in two shell companies.
That Muhwezi became one of three shareholders of Audley Holdings Ltd in 2015.
Audley Holdings Ltd is a British Virgin Islands company whose bank accounts are managed in Europe.
The company has faced a number of legal challenges.
In the same year Muhwezi became one of the shareholders, Audley Holdings Ltd’s co-shareholders were sued by an Israeli tycoon in a court in Uganda.
The Israeli was unconfortable with the manner in which shares had been sold in a company with an almost similar name: Audley Ltd.
Audley Ltd owns two casinos in Uganda.
Court would rule that Audley Holdings Ltd is the holding company of Audley Ltd in Uganda. Muhwezi was not named in the lawsuit.
A year later in 2016, Audley Holdings Ltd was closed after if defaulted on registration fees.
But its woes were not yet done.
In 2018, Panamanian law firm Alcogal reported Audley Holdings and its shareholders (including Muhwezi) to BVI regulators over alleged embezzlement that spanned over 11 years.
Alcogal had served as Audley Holdings Ltd’s registered agent.
But noting that Audley Holdings Ltd had been involved in suspected suspicious activities, Alcogal left its role as Audley Holdings Ltd’s registered agent.
Muhwezi was also said to be the owner of another offshore company: Sukari Loma Investment Holdings Ltd.
Sukari Loma Investment Holdings Ltd was founded in Cyprus in the year 2013.
Offshore service provider SFM helped in the registration of this Muhwezi owned firm.
Closed in 2015, Sukari Loma Investment Holdings Ltd was said to offer financial services, and was funded by the minister’s salary savings and earnings from his hotel and radio stations.
More details follow…
Additional Reporting: Courtesy