Why Ugandan Ministers Hide Cash, Houses in Europe, U.S.

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By Chimp Reports

Kampala, UG: President Museveni has been informed that many of his ministers are hiding valuable assets including large amounts of money in Europe and the United States.

Officials told ChimpReports on Sunday that the main reason why the Ugandan political and business elite are buying property in affluent suburbs of western capitals is because of political uncertainty in Uganda.

“It is an emerging serious issue for the President because you have many ministers obsessed with property in the U.S. or Europe as one way of securing their future,” said a highly placed official briefed about the matter.

“One of the reasons is these big people have their children attending school in Western countries and want to enable them to find a future there in terms of work and citizenship. This is because they don’t foresee a politically stable country,” the source emphasised.

Researchers say the state of democracy in Uganda faces a significant threat due to President Yoweri Museveni’s prolonged hold on power, which has lasted for more than three decades. 

Since his electoral victory in the most recent general election in January 2021, President Museveni has continued to consolidate his authority.

“Therefore, if you want your children to live and work in the United States, you have to buy them a house there where they can live. We are surprised the president is taking interest in this matter now because it is not new,” the source added. 

This development comes at a time when the president is investigating Speaker Anita Among for reportedly buying property in the UK.

President Museveni recently asked British authorities for credible information confirming that Speaker Among purchased prime properties in the UK.

Museveni said in a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Gen Jeje Odongo dated May 2, 2024, that he met with the UK’s envoy to Uganda, Kate Airey before the British slapped sanctions on the Speaker and two former Ministers – Agnes Nandutu and Goretti Kitutu for their alleged involvement in the theft of relief items for Karamoja region.

“She (Kate) also told me about sanctioning the Rt. Hon. Anita Among. I said: “Why?” She said that Anita Among has got a house or houses in the UK and has got bank accounts from which she pays school fees for her children who are studying there,” said Museveni.

“I told her that the issue of houses would be very interesting if, especially, Anita Among did not declare them in her Leadership Code documents. If she had declared them, then the next issue would be how she got the money to build them. If these two are answered correctly and showing no mistake, the remaining issue would be political, ideological judgement,” he added.

On her part, Among told the Parliament that she was not bothered by the sanctions and that she did not even own a pussy cat in the UK.

Among went on to urge the UK to respect other countries’ values and cultures.

ChimpReports understands that Uganda’s political elite prefer buying properties in secure countries such as the UK, United States, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Canada and Malaysia.

“Most of our Ministers prefer Canada because of its liberal immigration policies and great education system,” said a source. 

A son of one of the Ministers said, “If you take time to study this issue, you will realise that the political elite has little faith in our local education system and send children to foreign countries to acquire better skills to compete for global opportunities.” 

Corruption

However, the president, according to officials, fears this trend is fuelling corruption in public service with government officials being desperate to accumulate wealth to sustain their families abroad.

Corruption is endemic in Uganda which was ranked 142nd (out of 180) in the 2022 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI), (for the last 10 years scores between 25 and 27 out of 100).

A report published by the World Bank in 2020 observed that Ugandan officials could have stashed away a whopping USD 73M (Shs 267Bn) of aid money from the World Bank between 1990 and 2009.

The paper written by researchers from the Norwegian Business School, University of Copenhagen, and The World Bank observed that every time the institution released money to aid-dependent countries like Uganda, “there was a correlating increment in the amount of money deposited in countries praised as havens” – usually used to hide stolen cash.

The countries where they hide money include Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Cayman Islands, the Bahamas, Hong Kong and Singapore. 

For Uganda, researchers found that money hidden in havens by Ugandans grew by 2.4% per quarter when the World Bank released money for the country. This is higher than the quarterly growth in the country’s economy at just  an average of 1.6%.

The amounts hidden in these countries had reached Shs 267 bn by 2009.

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