BBC News is reporting that the Ugandan parliament has asserted its independence by acting to freeze new oil agreements after bribery allegations are brought forward by an MP:
Uganda’s parliament has voted to suspend all new deals in the oil sector following claims that government ministers took multi-million dollar bribes.
MP Gerald Karuhanga said in parliament on Monday that UK-based Tullow Oil paid bribes to influence decisions.
Tullow said it rejected the “outrageous and wholly defamatory” allegations.
The vote is a big blow to President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, analysts say.
The BBC’s Joshua Mmali in the capital, Kampala, says it means the government will not be able to sign new oil deals until a petroleum law is enacted.
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The British High Commission in Kampala yesterday said the country’s Metropolitan Police is at liberty to start investigations into allegations that Tullow, one of London’s 100 listed companies, paid bribes to senior Uganda government officials. “Bribery of foreign public officials is of course an offence under UK law, and it would therefore be for the British Police to decide whether to open an investigation into allegations made against a British company,” a spokesperson for the High Commission said in reply to our email enquiries.
UK’s 2010 Bribery Act imposes “strict liability” on UK corporations or business firms that fail to make “adequate processes” to prevent bribe payments. In yesterday’s statement, the High Commission said it was following the ongoing oil debate in Parliament “with interest”, but understand that “Tullow Oil totally rejects those allegations”.
The Company had by press time not replied to specific questions this newspaper raised based on allegations in Parliament that the firm between June 1 and July 16, 2010 paid out up to $100m (Shs280b) to “experts”, among them powerful ministers, for “professional services” from accounts with Bank of Valetta in Malta.
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