10 Jul Uganda: Anite Accused of Failing Bidder as UTL Storm Rages On
Hamilton Telecom has written to President Museveni accusing Investment and Privatization Minister Evelyne Anite of working hard to discredit the telecommunications firm bidding for the purchase of Uganda Telecom (UTL).
The company, which claims holding a business portfolio in excess of $250m in United States and Uganda with “substantial credit lines from various international institutions”, says Anite made remarks that could negatively impact their reputation.
Represented by Kinobe, Mutyaba Associates, John Kamya who owns Hamilton Telecom says their plight to “invest in Uganda especially as regards the bid for Uganda Telecom has been met with a lot of unnecessary resistance; animosity and hostility.”
The letter adds: “However, most shocking, is the conduct of the State Minister of Finance for investment and Privatization, the Hon Minister Evelyne Anite who has taken to knowingly making false defamatory statements, with an aim of discrediting our clients in the minds of right thinking members of society.”
Hamilton has as well threatened to sue Anite for defamation.
Bemanya Twebaze, the Registrar General and Official Receiver, Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), was last year appointed Administrator with powers to look for an investor/business partner to recapitalise and operate UTL business.
Some of the companies which expressed interest, according to records seen by ChimpReports, are Liquid Telecom, Telecel Global (Lebanon), Teleology Holdings (Gibraltar, UK), Mtech Communications (mobile content provider based in Nigeria), Seacom (internet vending service provider in which Aga Khan has a 30% stake), Xi Digitel (ICT Company with offices in UK, UAE and Switzerland).
Others are Mauritius Telecom, Munu Technology Associates Limited based in Uganda; China Telecom based in China, Extensia of UK, Baylis Consortium headquartered in New York; EW Tech Company; Neubacher Montage LLP (UK); Afrinet Communications (Kenya) and Hamilton Telecom.
The process of securing a buyer for UTL had proceeded smoothly until Anite told Museveni that Bemanya had asked her to take part in the sharing of a bribe from Hamilton, an offer she reportedly rejected.
Anite, who recently wept before Cabinet, said Bemanya was favouring Hamilton yet the company lacked the much-needed resources to turn around UTL.
Bemanya has since denied the charge, saying Anite publicly threatened to push him under the bus if Mauritius Telecom was denied the UTL deal.
This website understands that Anite is a subject of a State House investigation for reportedly soliciting an $8m (Shs 28bn) bribe from an investor.
Anite also has denied the allegations, saying, “You know, my job is an envious job, there are many people who want to have it. So, you would expect them to say anything.”
But officials familiar with the investigation say President Museveni was handed a recording pinning Anite in the bribe scandal and could most likely face the axe in the next Cabinet reshuffle.
Observers say Hamilton will have to prove its financial strength considering that the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) warned in its report that its company’s operational book accounts “revealed that the business employs 20 people and indicated an expected monthly turnover of Shs 200m.”
FIA further observed that all the funds to the company were originating from Kamya and that Hamilton is a relatively new entity with limited business operations.
“It is therefore our opinion that it is risky for government to engage this company as a strategic investor,” read the FIA report.
While FIA did not find any indications of money laundering or terrorist financing, the organisation “strongly advised against engaging this entity as a partner, as the company clearly lacks the financial capacity to be a meaningful strategic partner to government of Uganda.”
But in its defence, Hamilton telecom says it is a privately held, 100% Ugandan owned PSP-licensed telecom operator.
It is Uganda’s first licensed Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE), with a “goal to provide digital transformation in the country by utilizing modern communications solutions that bring converged communications services in the mass market.”
The group says it has local investments in Uganda such as The Hixon Group which is involved in real estate business with a company value of $30m.
The firm also deals in luxury apartments, 5-star hotels, international employment, engineering and construction; and telecommunications.
The FIA is blamed for failing to consult UTL on Hamilton’s proposal on raising funds to invest in UTL.