Last updated on April 3rd, 2023 at 10:43 am
A few years ago, Uganda won one of its hugest (to-date) tax cases against Oil Company Tullow Oil following arbitration proceedings in London.
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Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the tax collecting agency of the East African Country had assessed a $434 Million “Capital Gains Tax” against Tullow Oil after its $1.36 Billion acquisition of the assets of Heritage Oil, another Oil company.
Tullow Oil put up a spirited fight against this tax assessment starting right from the Ugandan Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT), through the High Court of Uganda, up to the London-based Arbitration Court.
But the Oil company in its efforts not to pay this tax was met with stiff resistance from the Government of Uganda through its lawyers led by then-Attorney General Peter Nyombi, URA Commissioner General (at the time) Doris Akol culminating in a major win for Uganda where it was able to obtain the tax worth about 1 Trillion Uganda Shillings.
Following this victory, President Yoweri Museveni decided the Government of Uganda team needed to be awarded some money to the tune of 6 Billion Uganda Shillings in what would later come to be known as “the Handshake.”
The news of this transaction was first broken by the ChimpReports website and it immediately sparked public controversy leading to a Parliamentary Investigation into the matter, which would later be trashed by Court.
The seemingly independent-minded Veteran Journalist Andrew Mwenda, who describes himself as “the Old man of the Clan against Common Nonsense” hopped from one TV channel to the next justifying the heavily opposed “handshake.”
In his argument, the government officials had displayed “extraordinary patriotism” in defending Uganda’s interest over and above personal interest.
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Now, as if to validate the Journalist’s argument, the last-born son of Attorney General Peter Nyombi has revealed for the first time that his dad, before he died in 2018, told his family about an attempt to bribe him to sabotage the case.
Mr. Solomon Ignatius Nyombi, writes in his book about Attorney General Peter Nyombi entitled: “ Peter Nyombi; His Side of the Story; The life of the maverick former Attorney General through the eyes of those who knew him.” [Read our Review of the Book here]
“ If Uganda had lost the case, URA would have lost the opportunity of Heritage Oil and Gas Limited paying capital gains tax worth 1.1 trillion shillings. This would have been a monumental loss for the country.
Walking into his chambers at the Ministry of Justice, I was always astounded by the sizes of the files that he was absorbing like a sponge.
He attacked them with an almost childlike enthusiasm because he loved what he was doing.”
“ Peter revealed to us that during the Heritage case, he was invited to Serena Hotel by mysterious people.
At the hotel, these people offered him the chance to sabotage the case so that the other side could win.
The reward for his cooperation was 5 Million US Dollars which would amount to over 17 Billion Uganda Shillings, a jaw-dropping amount of money.
With that kind of money in the bank, would you have to work again a day in your life?
Not many people would turn that kind of offer down and yet he spurned their offer because accepting it would tantamount to a betrayal of his faith and the country.”
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This revelation is just one of the many never-heard-before aspects of former Attorney General Peter Nyombi’s life in private and public spaces.
Depicted as a sycophant, incompetent lawyer, and thief – interestingly including by fellow lawyers Hon. Peter Nyombi died a controversial man – or according to Daily Monitor’s tribute a “troubled legal star.”
Solomon Nyombi does a good job showing us – those who talk loudest- how little we know about the people we talk about.
May you find this book and read it!
Get a copy from Nyombi & Co Advocates located at the NIC Building in Kampala.
Benjamin Ahikiiriza is a Legal Writer And Digital Communications & Marketing Specialist majoring in Lawyers, Law Firms And the larger Legal Sector.
Benjamin currently Works as the Director of Content and Business Development At LegalReports.