Five individuals connected to an alleged attempt to defraud investors and engage in forgery at the energy ministry offices in August this year have been formally charged. The charges against them include forgery, uttering false documents, impersonation, and conspiracy to commit a felony.
These individuals, who appeared before City Hall Grade One magistrate Edgar Karakire, pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, they sought bail through their legal representatives, led by David Kamukama. The magistrate rejected their bail application, citing the seriousness and prevalence of the offenses they are accused of.
Four key figures, including the head of the energy ministry’s petroleum division, Spero Byokunda, businessman Emmanuel Byamukama, Jausa Kwitonda, and Allan Musinguzi, did not appear in court. The accused persons were remanded to Luzira Prison pending further legal proceedings.
The charges brought against them are as follows:
Count 1: Forgery
The state alleges that the accused, during August 2023 in Kampala, with the intent to defraud, forged a confirmation document for the supply of LED-based solar street lights from the energy ministry. The document falsely purported the chairperson of the special contracts committee from the ministry as a signatory.
Count 2: Uttering False Document
The state alleges that during August 2023 at the ministry, the accused knowingly and fraudulently presented a procurement document to a Serbian national, Ljuba Samardizc. This document, Ref: MEMD/WRKS/22-23/003/4, falsely claimed approval by the special contracts committee.
Count 3: Impersonation
In August 2023, at the ministry, the state alleges that one of the accused falsely represented themselves as a public servant, specifically as the chairperson of the Special Contracts Committee. This impersonation was in connection with confirming the supply of LED-based solar lighting to Samardizc.
Count 4: Conspiracy to Commit a Felony
The state alleges that the accused conspired together during August in Kampala to commit a felony. Their intended felony was arranging a meeting between a Serbian investor, Samardzic, who wanted to undertake an energy-related project at Amber House. The purpose of this conspiracy was to defraud the investor.
The charges and arrests stem from a situation where ministry officials allegedly arranged a meeting between the ‘ministry of energy officials’ and Serbian investors interested in renewable energy projects at Amber House inside the ministry’s boardroom. These investors had arrived in Uganda in August and were promised a meeting with Energy Minister Ruth Nankabirwa and technical personnel. However, their suspicions were raised when they were asked to provide money during one of the meetings, which was chaired by one of the accused individuals, George Byomugabe.
The magistrate instructed the state attorney, Mercy Khaidara Yamangusho, to amend the charge sheet to include Kwitonda and Musinguzi, who were not initially listed. The accused individuals will remain in Luzira Prison while awaiting further legal proceedings.