A series of syndicated activities have been uncovered as a result of an inquiry into a cash payment of Shs2.9 billion to two ghost informants who assisted the taxman in recovering around Shs32 billion from Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL).
According to the Uganda Revenue Authority’s (URA) informer management and reward policy, informants who provide information that results in the recovery of any duty evasion are eligible for rewards.
One of the conditions of the prize amount is that URA employees and their close relatives are not eligible for rewards. Prior to Financial Year (FY) 2022/2023, the incentive amount was up to 10% of the tax or duty evaded.
According to information provided to this website, an inquiry exposed dishonest business activities that resulted in the recovery of around Shs32 billion from UBL.
Changing informer reference numbers and codes, hiding papers and information, as well as falsifying and altering documents on the part of a number of URA workers, are just a few of the dishonest acts. According to what we understand, some of the staff employees who have been accused are commissioners.
Mr. Dicksons Kateshumbwa has been taken in by the contentious payments to two phantom informers. At the time the payments were made, the Sheema Municipality representative was also the commissioner of domestic taxes.
In order to protect their identities, informers are often designated by code names or code numbers. Code names for the individuals in matter were Black Cob and Air Force.
The purported rewards for Air Force 1 and Black Cob were Shs1,883,755,265 and Shs1,169,759,207, respectively. The former received Shs1,770,729,994 while the latter received Shs1,099,574,655, as the awards are taxed.
As far as we know, the prize for Air Force 1 and Black Cob each included withholding taxes of Sh113,025,271 and Sh70,184,552, respectively. Black Cob received payment on July 19, 2019, and Air Force 1 on May 8, 2018.
The assistant commissioner for public and corporate affairs at URA, Mr. Ibrahim Bbosa, declined to comment on the alleged scam involving the payment of informant rewards.
He disclosed to Monitor that URA is being looked into for a number of things, including informer rewards.
“Those two cases are under my docket. I have already scheduled an appointment with the [Inspectorate of Government]. Informer management is under me so you can see why it might not be appropriate to pre-empt a discussion I am meant to have with the [ombudsman],” Mr Bbosa told this Daily Monitor.
URA employees conspired to pay informer rewards that were spent on Air Force 1 and Black Cob, according to a March 2022 investigation report regarding the prizes.
“The informer reward payments to Black Cob and Air Force 1 was cleverly crafted and concealed fraud that was planned and executed by URA staff in a syndicate,” the report reads in part, adding, “The fraud exploited weaknesses in the informer management and reward process, and was made possible by a management culture that allowed heads of department to act unaccountably.”
More than ten URA employees are alleged to have operated improperly while arranging the contested payments.
The report states that the URA commissioner general, acting at the board of directors’ request, commissioned an investigation into the events that resulted in a decrease in beer taxes collected in May 2014.
This was compared to the amount that was gathered the prior year. The actual commissioner general at the time was Ms. Doris Akol.