A Ugandan law firm is investigating the “source” and “motive” of forged documents circulated on social media platforms, showing that Gen Caleb Akandwanaho alias Salim Saleh deals with the controversial Rwandan businessman Tribert Rujugiro.
In the alleged Special Board Resolution and a Memorandum of Understanding both dated June 13 2017 and drafted by Ligomarc Advocates, Gen Saleh is authorised and accepts to acquire 15 percent shareholding in Ms Lead Tobacco & Commodities (U) Ltd.
The tobacco factory business is owned exiled by Rwandan tycoon Tribert Rujugiro whom Kigali accuses of funding efforts to destabilize Rwanda.
One of Ligomarc Advocates partners Ruth Sebatindira allegedly signed both documents in her supposed capacity as director and shareholder in the company.
In a statement issued on Monday, Ligomarc discredited the authenticity of the documents.
“This is to inform the general public that these reports are fake as our client has not entered into any such transaction,” said Kabiito Karamagi, Managing partner, Ligomarc Advocates.
He said the documents are forgeries and were not prepared by the law firm.
“Furthermore, while Mrs Sebatindira is secretary of the company, she is not a director in the company as the documents allege,” said Karamagi, adding, “Our investigations at the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) have revealed that these documents are not filled at companies registry contrary to what they purport to represent.”
Ligomarc said they were currently “working closely with our client to investigate the source of these falsehoods and the intention of the perpetuators.”
The accusations come against the backdrop of heighted tensions between Rwanda and Uganda.
Kigali is said to have expressed its concerns over Rujugiro’s business expansion drive in Uganda.
Saleh is President Museveni’s brother.
He was a close childhood friend of Maj Gen Fred Rwigema who died in the first days of the RPF war against the regime of Juvenal Habyarimana.
Sources say Saleh’s ties with the government of President Paul Kagame have been frosty over a long period of time.
Rujugiro recently launched what he described as a “$20m tobacco development investment” in Arua, Northern Uganda.
The Meridian Tobacco Company (MTC) factory was opened together with its farmer development program, and food crop and forestry improvement.
The project comprising the USD8 million factory, USD10 million, leaf-grower program, and USD2 million food crops and forestry development, have been operational since 2015/2016.
Rujugiro said the MTC factory directly employs 352 workers and empowers 15,000 small farmers that supply the facility.
An additional 1,600 workers and small businesses such as transporters expand the workforce seasonally, according to the businessman.
Reflecting on the investment climate in Uganda, Rujugiro stated: “My relationship with Uganda goes back two decades. Our partnership with the authorities and people of Uganda has always been excellent.”
He added: “This investment in northern Uganda is further strengthening our collaborative efforts with communities and government to improve lives. Together we are creating greater employment opportunities, improving agricultural practices, enhancing food security, supporting small businesses, and taking care of the environment.”
The Rwandan government recently took over, auctioned and sold Rujugiro’s Union Trade Centre shopping mall in the heart of Kigali city at $8m.
The businessman said the property was valued at $20 million.
Government said then that UTC has since been declared an abandoned asset and, according to the law, proceeds from such assets must go to the state.
Efforts to challenge the takeover through the East African Court of Justice did not bear fruit.
The court stated among other things that the tycoon “had not established a violation of the Treaty that is attributable to the Respondent (Government of the Republic of Rwanda)” and therefore declined to grant the declarations sought.
Rujugiro was a strong ally and economic adviser of President Kagame during the RPF struggle and its aftermath.
The tycoon would later fall out with the establishment before fleeing to South Africa.
The state has since linked Rujugiro to dissident Rwanda army officers exiled in South Africa especially Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa and departed ex Intelligence chief, Col Patrick Karegeya.
In 2011, Rwanda National Police seized eight heavy trucks belonging to Congo Tobacco Company (CTC) in which Rujugiro is a major shareholder. The company is based in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Then police spokesperson ACP Theos Badege said the force acted on intelligence showing the trucks were supporting what he described as ‘terror activities’ spearheaded by Nyamwasa and Karegeya.
Rujugiro has since denied the accusations, saying he is a victim of a political witch-hunt.