KAMPALA, Uganda: On the Monday afternoon of January 20th 2014, Darren Smith, an American national, started on his dream of investing and doing business in Uganda. After being introduced to one James Sebudde, Mr. Smith sent an email to James Sebudde to outline the business relationship and terms of the deal.
The Creative Director, and Founder of Barollo Italy, an Italian luxury brand of handmade footwear, handbags and belts, custom made for celebrities and athletes around the world, Darren was introduced by a friend in America who had been working with James for approximately two years prior to Mr. Smith’s involvement. The plan… To collect hazardous electronic waste for export to the US and Europe for clean recycling and to create jobs in Uganda and East Africa.
The above mentioned email was for Mr. Smith to introduce himself to Sebudde to outline the business and terms of the deal. “A few things we need to discuss: 1) Banking – my thoughts on this are as follows: A. You should open up an account with a bank, like Citi Bank so we can just make deposits, rather than make wire transfers…”
The Investigator understands that business started swiftly after Sebudde sent in the bank particulars. “Hello Darren, the bank details are as below. Bank address: Stanbic Bank Uganda’ Garden City Branch, Yusuf Lule Road. Account name: Pola Collections. Account number: 0140063535301. Our address is Pola Collections, Market Square. P.O Box 9137, Kampala Uganda. For any further reference, please do contact me. James.”
Armed with the bank details, Darren began funding James and his collection operations with money for purchases of the electronic scrap for recycling from around the country. Mr. Smith advised that all the collections should be categorized, weighed in kilograms and pictures taken for proof. His dream seemed to ‘yield fruits’ when, Sebudde started sending Smith photos of him posing with the waste. More money was sent to the tune of USD $107,300.
“Darren, the phones are 503kgs, the motherboards 71kgs. Photos are attached,” reads one of the many mails Sebudde sent Darren on the ‘progresses’ of business. However, to this end, everything was as fake as all Ugandan con-stars’ renowned works, at least, according to Kibuli based Crime Investigations and Intelligence Directorate findings.
After some time, James had convinced Darren that the first consignment was ready for export, a lie that never stayed for long before Darren realized he had been swindled. He jumped onto a plane to Uganda in pursuit of Sebudde and, vide police file number CRB/333/17 of Jinja Road Police station, a search for the thieving ‘business partner’ commenced.
“Sebudde James Lutaaya, between the 28th day of January 2014 and the 9th day of January 2015 at Stanbic Bank, Garden City branch, Yusuf Lule Road in the Kampala District, with intent to defraud, obtained USD $107,300 (One hundred, seven thousand three hundred dollars) from Mr. Smith purporting that he was purchasing electronic scrap for him whereas not,” states the charge sheet.
The investigations Officer D/SSP John Dhabangi also preferred an alternative count of theft, contrary to section 254 (1) and 261 of the Penal Code Act before he forwarded the file to the DPP for sanctioning. Indeed, on 25th April 2017, the State Attorney seating at Buganda Road Court sanctioned the same. Sebudde was dragged to Buganda Road Court last week and remanded to Luzira Prison until Friday (May 12th 2017) where he is likely to be sentenced or agree to pay back the more than 400 million Ugandan Shillings. James faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for his crimes if convicted.