A Chinese firm known as Peace Oil and Gas Limited found itself entangled in a potentially fraudulent scheme when its planned acquisition of the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) fell apart.
The predicament began when the Chinese company presented purported documentation claiming it had successfully acquired UNOC, only to discover that the entire purchase was allegedly fraudulent.
Zhang Jilong, the proprietor of Peace Oil and Gas Limited, was unable to provide details about those involved in the transaction or the amount of money at stake.
The news of this supposed acquisition quickly spread across social media platforms, prompting UNOC to swiftly disavow any connection to the deal. In an official statement, UNOC emphasized its commitment to transparent partnerships for Uganda’s energy future and distanced itself from Peace Oil and Gas Company.
Seeking to clarify the situation, UNOC’s head of corporate affairs, Sarah Banage, extended an invitation to Peace Oil and Gas Company for a meeting to gain insight into the situation. She speculated that Zhang Jilong might have been deceived and expressed a willingness to hear his side of the story.
In an interview with Zhang Jilong at New Vision offices in Kampala, he confirmed the company’s interest in acquiring UNOC. However, when asked whether he was aware that UNOC was a government entity, Jilong claimed he was not aware of this fact.
Jilong mentioned that he had interacted with an individual from the energy ministry who had helped him secure the documentation for the purported UNOC acquisition. He declined to provide further details about this interaction.
Zhang Jilong’s predicament occurred amid a separate case where seven suspects from the energy ministry were charged with various offenses, including impersonation, forgery, and using false documents, as they allegedly attempted to defraud a Serbian national.
During the interview with a local news paper, Zhang Jilong was accompanied by his wife, identified as Heping, and a Ugandan contact who acted as their liaison with various ministries. The Ugandan contact remained unidentified and explained that he had advised Jilong to follow the proper procedures for investment, suggesting that Jilong’s decision to engage lawyers was unexpected.
A board resolution, supposedly legitimizing the UNOC purchase, had been notarized by lawyer Fabian Aogon. Aogon clarified that as a notary, he focused on verifying the identity of the person appearing before him and the authenticity of the documents, rather than the accuracy of the content.
The resolution named Jilong and his wife as the main signatories to the letters of intent for acquiring UNOC, although it did not specify the document’s origin. It bore a Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) stamp, but Steven Baryevuga, the URSB communications specialist, declared it fake and non-existent in their records.
Jilong disclosed plans for his company to launch the “Thunder Project,” which aimed to invest a substantial amount in various projects in Uganda, including the establishment of a commercial bank. He presented documents certified by the foreign affairs ministry and the Chinese embassy in Uganda outlining their intended investments.
The Chinese embassy, however, disclaimed knowledge of the company and referred inquiries to their gas and oil section.
UNOC, established under the Petroleum Act of 2013, is a government-owned limited liability company entrusted with safeguarding the state’s commercial interests in the oil and gas industry while ensuring sustainable resource exploitation.