Katosi road scam victims ordered to refund UNRA UGX 20 Billion

BY: Eyalama In Business, News On

As Diamond Trust Bank of Kenya and Uganda are still gasping from the hefty 120 billion shillings order by Justice Henry Peter Adonyo to pay businessman Ham Kiggundu now under appeal, the Head of the High Court Commercial Division has sent the heads of six respondents in the Katosi road scam spinning by ordering them to refund more than 20 billion shillings to Uganda National Roads Authority.

Arising from their Katosi road scam, the six who have been ordered to refund UNRA are; businessman Apollo Senkeeto, Timothy McCoy, Richard Pratt, Michael Olvey, Niu Hong and EUTAW Construction Company Incorporated.

The no-nonsense judge who is known for not tolerating financial illegalities found that the six entities engaged in an elaborate and complicated scheme to defraud UNRA after evidence indicated that a non-existing company EUTAW which had been contracted to do the road construction works worth 24.7 billion shillings did only works estimated to be at 3 percent valued  at 6 billion shillings.

He noted that EUTAW, a non-existing company through its purported country representative Senkeeto after getting a contract, sub contracted a Chinese firm CICO Construction which did the said works. To him therefore, it was prudent for the entities to refund the balance of 18.7 billion that was never used in the construction of the road.

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Adonyo has also ordered that the six pay to UNRA general damages of 500 million shillings for inconveniences caused to the authority, punitive damages of one billion shillings as well as costs of the suit. He ordered that all the money attracts a ten percent interest per annum effective Thursday when the judgement was delivered until payment in full.

The judgement arises from the September 2016 petition filed by UNRA against the said six entities in the Commercial Division of High Court.

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UNRA through its lawyers led by Kenneth Mwebembezi argued that they had signed a contract with EUTAW on November 15, 2013 to upgrade the Mukono-Kyetume-Katosi road.

Court heard that in line with the agreement, UNRA paid 24.7 billion Shillings in advance on Senkeeto’s account on behalf of the fictitious company which claimed that it was related to the one in the United States of America which was however not the case.

Accordingly, money was paid in Housing Finance Bank and it is the same account that Senkeeto managed with the two Chinese Olvey and Hong whom they are sued with.

But after getting the advance payment, EUTAW being a sham company then subcontracted a Chinese company CICO Construction Corporation in July 2014 to tarmac the road.

In the circumstances, UNRA discovered that it had been duped by Senkeeto to sign a contract with a non-existing construction firm. At this time, the sub-contractor had done works estimated to have been worth 6.1 billion shillings.

Subsequently, UNRA sued the entitles seeking to recover the balance of the money that hadn’t been used and the Judge has agreed with them and allowed their petition.

In August 2018, Senkeeto was convicted by the Anti-Corruption Court together with two others for various offenses related to financial loss of 24.7 billion shillings for the Katosi road works and he was personally handed a ten-year jail term.

Senkeeto and his co-convicts were initially charged together with former Minister for Works Abraham Byandala, former UNRA director Bernardo Kimeze and former UNRA legal counsel Marvin Baryaruha and former Housing Finance bank staff Isaac Mugote who were all acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence to prove that they were not part of the illegal process.

But Senkeeto was in 2019 released on bail pending appeal by the Court of Appeal Justice Cheborion Barishaki on health grounds.

The respondents were represented by senior lawyer Peter Mulira who is yet to confirm if they are going to appeal against the decision or not.

UNRA’s lawyer Kenneth Mwebembezi has welcomed the decision by court.

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