Police probes how a top City Tycoon and Leading Investor was conned of US$210,000

Prof. Kharmali (L) and Ssekweyama

KAMPALA, Uganda. CIID Headquarters in Kampala are investigating circumstances under which a top city tycoon and investor, Prof. Kharmali Minaz was conned of US$240,000 (Ugx900m), the Investigator reports.

The Investigator can exclusively report that Kharmali, the managing director of Liberty Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Namanve reported a case vide CID HQS GEF 991/2017 regarding the same. The Director CIID, AIGP Grace Akullo confirmed that Kharmali filed a cased against the conmen who are still at large.

Liberty (ICD) Ltd is a fully registered Bonded area (W0248) located in Namanve with the purpose of providing services in Kampala Industrial and Business Park (KIBP) for Logistical and Commercial purposes.

According to information from the detectives investigating the case, a one Grace Sekweyama, who we established was a former personal assistant to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sam Kahamba Kutesa approached Kharmali promising to link him up to some investors interested in purchasing his land at Namanve. The alleged investors were from West Africa but working with UN in Entebbe.

The Investigator established that Kharmali owns over 400 acres of land at the Namanve based Industrial Park. When the land was opened up for purchase by the Uganda Investment Authority then, it was going out for a minimum of US$80,000 per acre. Today Kharmali sells an acre at Ugx1.2b (US$345,000)

Prof. Kharmali revealed to us how he was approached by Ssekweyama and introduced the deal after which, he received a call from a one Michael Mulenga using a US phone number and told him he was wiring the money through UN. He then asked him to contact his associates in UN. After three days, they informed him money had arrived.

He was driven to the UN base in Entebbe in a UN registered Number vehicle to meet the purported buyers led by a one Dr. Rayan. While at Entebbe, Kharmali was promised ‘hell’ of dollars for his land. “These people deal with army men. When I reached Entebbe the car I was in was surrounded by heavily armed army men. I fear them,” he said.

According to detectives, the said buyers who are currently on the run and are being hunted were in fact ‘fake’ land buyers (bafere).

We have reports that they convinced Kharmali to help them print their ‘black dollars’ so as to pay him for his land. They first asked for US$240,000 that Kharmali reportedly refused to pay. He was however convinced after they gave him USD200 which he checked with a forex bureau and found them genuine. He was then asked for USD210000 which he willingly offered.

Whereas reports indicate that Kharmali paid to clean the black dollars, he insists he was paying for the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) clearance. “The American caller insisted that he pays the tax before the money is cleared,” Kharmali’s assistant and executive board member of Indian Association of Uganda Mohamed Vaheed told us.

Upon payment of the USD21000, says Ahmed, the ‘buyers’ begun a cat and mouse game prompting Kharmali to run to FIA where he was informed it was a fake deal. “We called them and lied that we were offering more money. We went to Lake Victoria Hotel with an empty suitcase but followed by police,” explains Mohamed.

On suspecting it could be a trap, the ‘buyers’ surrounded themselves with army men reportedly led by a Major. “They were outnumbering the police officers so the scammers used this chance to flee the Hotel,” said Mohamed. He further alleges police have since jumped into bed with scammers.

After several months of hunting for the suspects by a joint team of security operatives from CMI, JAAT and Flying Squad, Grace Sekweyama was finally arrested on November 30th and detained at the Kololo Airstrip Police Station before he was transferred to CIID Kibuli and released on police bond. “The police officers engaged us into negotiations, defending Grace but we refused,” laments Mohamed.

When he was interrogated, Sekweyama said how his role ended at linking the buyers to Kharmali. “What transpired after between them, I don’t know,” he reportedly said. He instead accused Kharmali of trying to make quick bucks by engaging in fake dollar printing.

Speaking with fear Prof, Kharmali told us how his life is in danger. “I am so stressed. My family is so scared. Even me I am so scared for my life. I feel these people may bump me off. I will withdraw the case if they want they will refund my money, if they don’t want its fine. I am living in fear,” he said.

As is to confirm his curiosity, sources tell us that police are pondering on looking at clues emerging from revelations from Sekweyama to probe Kharmali on crimes related to dealing in counterfeits. Watch this space…

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