Ananias Tumukunde, President Museveni’s aide, who this week was sentenced to 12 years in jail by a UK court on corruption charges––had been tracked by UK Intelligence for several months. Tumukunde, a Presidential Advisor on Science and Technology, pleaded guilty to accepting more than £50,000 in bribes from a UK company, CBRN Team Ltd. But we have established that since March last year, the Overseas Anti-Corruption Unit (OACU), a department of the City of London Police, had already got information that Tumukunde was about to engage in a suspicious deal with this company.The deal involved procurement of training and security equipment in the run-up to the Common-wealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Uganda last year. OACU had got reports that money was about to change hands.
The reports, The Weekly Observer understands, were provided in part by a group of Ugandans in the UK who had somehow got wind of the deal.
OACU did its investigations and discovered that Tumukunde had made contact with Niels Tobiasen, Managing Director of CBRN Team Ltd., and signed a contract worth £210,000 (Shs 756 million) for the equipment.
Further investigations revealed that Tumukunde had asked Tobiasen that in addition, he should help meet a local tax of 10%. Tobiasen reportedly agreed and a total of five ‘local tax’ payments worth over £83,000 (Shs 289 million) were made to both Tumukunde and a Ugandan army officer, Rusoke Tagaswire, between June 1, 2007 and February 11, 2008. The latter is still at large. The UPDF Spokesperson, Maj. Paddy Ankunda, said he could not comment about Tagaswire’s involvement in the scandal because he was still consulting other people.
The payment of this ‘tax’ to the bank accounts of the two individuals and not to the government raised the eye-brows of OACU. The unit received information that Tumukunde would travel to the UK towards the end of March or early April 2008–– to seek treatment for an ear and throat ailment––and in collaboration with other security agencies decided to trap him.
So, on April 3, when he landed at Heathrow Airport, he was arrested by the Scotland Yard and a thorough search revealed that he had 103,000 British Pounds on him. Although details of the case point to personal culpability on Tumukunde and Tagaswire’s part, it is astonishing that the Government of Uganda early this year sent another presidential aide, Fox Odoi, to try and rescue Museveni’s man. After several days in the United Kingdom, Odoi left empty-handed as Tumukunde was denied bail.
Initially, it was suspected that Tumukunde was also engaged in money laundering and charges to this effect were opened against him.
But as it turns out, the charges of money laundering were one aspect of the case OACU was looking at, although its major focus was bribery.
Meanwhile, his accomplice Tobiasen had in August pleaded guilty to charges of bribing Tumukunde and court is expected to make a ruling on his sentence tomorrow (Friday, September 26, 2008).
Financial Times, a UK newspaper; said Colin Cowan who heads the OACU had hailed the ruling in Tumukunde’s case.
“This case clearly shows that there is a need for a dedicated policing unit in this area,” they quoted him as saying.
This was the first case to be prosecuted by the OACU which was set up in June 2006 by former British Premier, Tony Blair, as one of the measures to tackle international corruption.
Shahid Malik, UK’s Minister for International Development, said the case would send a “clear message” to UK companies that the government was committed to investigating and prosecuting in overseas corruption cases.
Who is Tumukunde?
The background of Ananias Tumukunde, who is 31 years old, remains a mystery.
Sources have told us that he is a former PGB operative who was recently appointed Presidential Advisor on Science and Technology.
Yet his knowledge and experience in this area, sources say, is doubtable and it is believed that title was conferred upon him to enable him carry out transactions on behalf of government that included purchase of military equipment, without inconvenience.
Efforts to get comment from the President’s Office were futile.
*Additional information from agencies