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EXCLUSIVE: Mbabazi Named In Shs530bn Oil Bribe Saga

try geneva;”>At the time, viagra 40mg Mbabazi was the country’s Security Minister.

Compiled by the External Security Organization (ESO), the report said Mbabazi was “eyeing” a $200 million commission for securing a deal between Heritage Oil and the Italian firm ENI.

This information was provided to the US Embassy in Kampala by Tullow Oil’s Director for External Relations, Andy Demetriou, according to a leaked cable by former US Ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier to the State Department.

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According to whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks, Tullow’s Demetriou, provided the embassy with a copy of a supposedly confidential Ugandan intelligence report on negotiations between Heritage Oil and the Italian oil giant ENI.

The new report could pile more pressure and inform a critical attack on the premier who has in the past been accused of being involved in several scandals.

Efforts to reach Mbabazi for a comment were futile as his known mobile phone was switched off.

He was yet to respond to Chimpreports’ messages on his official Twitter account.

But the Prime Minister has in the past denied accusations of receiving bribes from oil companies.

The allegations of receiving bribes first came to the limelight in 2010 only to be vehemently dismissed by Mbabazi.

Western Youth MP Gerald Karuhanga later tabled documents implicating Mbabazi alongside his Internal Affairs counterpart Hilary Onek and Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa in the bribery scam. The trio rubbished the allegations.

President Museveni later said his investigations had exonerated the ministers from any wrongdoing. Museveni further described the documents as “forgeries.”

Cable

However, Lanier wrote to Washington saying Tullow had previously expressed concern that ENI was using illicit payments to Ugandan officials to obtain government authorization for purchasing Heritage and depriving Tullow of oil holdings in Lake Albert.

“The report (compiled by ESO) says western governments – including the U.S., U.K., Sweden, and France – oppose the opaque ENI deal, that Tullow hopes to sell 50% of its Ugandan holdings to ExxonMobil, and that ENI offered Ugandan officials facilitating an ENI-Heritage agreement a $200 million “commission,” wrote Lanier.

He added: “The report identifies Security Minister and National Resistance Movement (NRM) Secretary General Amama Mbabazi as ENI’s primary Ugandan deal maker.”

The envoy further noted that Mbabazi was using a front company belonging to the European owner of Asante Oil, and that ENI representatives distributed “fat envelopes” to a number of visitors – including Energy Ministry officials, representatives from the Office of the President, journalists, and Bunyoro Kingdom officers – while installed at a safari lodge in Murchison Falls National Park close to where drilling has occurred.

Lanier observed that much of the intelligence report highlighted ENI’s Libyan ties and accused slain Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi of funneling money to the Bunyoro and Buganda Kingdoms to destabilize the Museveni regime.

“The final two sections of the report purport to “show how ENI corrupts a country’s leadership and forces them to take unpopular selfish policies,” and the “dangers” of an ENI/Libya deal,” wrote Lanier.

HIGH RANKING UGANDAN DIPLOMAT

On January 7, Uganda’s former interim Ambassador to the UN, Adonia Ayebare, reportedly told the US embassy that the President of Tullow Uganda, Elly Karuhanga, contributed to the security services’ report.

Ayebare added that both Mbabazi and Agriculture Minister Hope Mwesigye were deeply involved with ENI.

Lanier reminded Washington that Mbabazi had in July and August 2008, facilitated a series of meetings between Tullow and ENI in Italy.

At the time, Tullow owned half of each of the oil blocks Heritage was attempting to sell.

According to Tullow and Heritage’s contractual agreement, Tullow had 30 days to exercise its right of first refusal before Heritage could sell its portion of these two blocks to another firm.

On December 18, Ugandan media reported that Tullow had until January 17 to exercise this right by outbidding ENI.

Lanier observed that Tullow could not outbid ENI’s $1.5 billion offer for Heritage without significant financial backing from another major oil firm, most likely ExxonMobil.

On December 21, ExxonMobil told the U.S. Mission that reports of a January 17 deadline were incorrect, and that the 30 day clock was not yet ticking as Heritage had not officially notified Tullow of its intention to sell.

ExxonMobil added that unless ENI managed to negotiate additional yet undisclosed concessions from the Ugandan government, ENI’s reported offer was well beyond ExxonMobil’s price range.

ExxonMobil, wrote Lanier, also said it would be difficult to pursue a partnership with Tullow in Uganda if ENI succeeded in purchasing Heritage’s holdings as ENI was not a trustworthy partner.

The US envoy reported: “It now appears that Heritage did notify Tullow on December 18 of the impending ENI sale. On January 9, Tullow’s London based lawyers informed Heritage that the December 18 notification was “not a valid pre-emption notice” as it failed to provide cash values for Heritage’s Ugandan holdings and other required documentation.”

Tullow was then demanding a valid pre-emption notice, the missing documentation, and a new 30 day consideration period.

If Heritage failed to respond by January 11, Tullow would seek an English court injunction to suspend the ENI sale and activate a dispute resolution mechanism allowing for arbitration by the International Chamber of Commerce in London.

In his conclusive remarks, Lanier said: “We believe Mbabazi is positioning himself for a significant payoff, but the security report is undermined somewhat by Tullow’s apparent involvement in its drafting.”

“In December, ExxonMobil said it lacked concrete evidence that its Ugandan interests have been harmed, but noted that ENI’s involvement has had a negative impact. If the Heritage-ENI sale proceeds unchanged, it will significantly reduce the value of Tullow’s Uganda holdings, zap ExxonMobil’s interest, and put Uganda on the road to rampant oil sector corruption.”

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