By Our Reporter
The Minister of Security, Maj. Gen Jim Muhwezi (pictured) is the Ugandan minister cited in the Pandora Papers as having secret offshore properties.
On Monday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists-ICIJ released the now-famous Pandora Papers where it reviewed more than 11 million documents from 14 organizations that help powerful people across the globe hide properties overseas in offshore accounts away from the intriguing eyes of the public and tax collectors.
According to reporting by ICIJ, Muhwezi owned and held shares in two shell companies.
The story explains that in February 2015, Muhwezi who was then the Minister of Information and National Guidance became one of three shareholders of the British Virgin Islands Company Audley Holdings Ltd. The company’s directors authorized it to manage bank accounts in Europe.
The story alleges that in 2015, an Israeli businessman sued Muhwezi’s co-shareholders in a Ugandan court, disputing the transfer of shares in a similarly-named company, Audley Ltd, which owns two unnamed casinos in Uganda. The lawsuit did not name Muhwezi, but the court later ruled to stop the share transfer. Audley Holding Ltd. is the holding company of Audley Ltd in Uganda.
“Regulators closed Audley Holdings Ltd. in 2016 for failing to pay registration fees. But in 2018, the Panamanian law firm Alcogal, which set up the company, reported Audley Holdings and its shareholders, including Muhwezi, to BVI regulators in a suspicious activity report after a database search revealed the eleven-year-old embezzlement allegations against him.
Alcogal told regulators it resigned as the BVI’s company’s registered agent,” reads part of the story. The story adds that Muhwezi also owned Sukari Loma Investment Holdings Ltd, created in Cyprus in 2013 through the offshore provider SFM.
“The company provided “financial services,” Muhwezi wrote on a signed beneficial owner statement, adding that its funds came from salary savings and his hotel and radio stations. It was closed in 2015,” the story adds. Efforts to speak to Muhwezi who is also the Member for Parliament for Rujumbura County in Rukungiri district were futile as he neither picked repeated calls nor responded to SMS and WhatsApp messages to his known telephone number. However, when ICIJ talked to him he feigned ignorance.
“I don’t know what you are talking about and I can’t make any reply,” Muhwezi said. It’s not yet known whether Muhwezi’s source of income tucked away in offshore companies came from legal sources. However, he has twice been implicated in financial impropriety while he held cabinet jobs. He was in 1999 censured as State Minister for Education and in 2006 he was implicated in the misuse of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization funds meant for while he held the position of Minister Health.