Car fraud suspects hit back

By Vision Reporter

Added 24th June 2009 03:00 AM

THE three directors of Arnold Brooklyn Company, implicated in a scam of fake car number plates, have denied the charges against them.

By Cyprian Musoke

THE three directors of Arnold Brooklyn Company, implicated in a scam of fake car number plates, have denied the charges against them.

Harishi Bhuptani and his wife, Smita, currently in India, through their lawyer said they would travel back and appear in court on July 17 to defend themselves.

Lawyer Deo Nkuzingoma said it was wrong for URA to lump all of the accused and put them on the same charge sheet when they are being charged with different cases.

“Some should have been witnesses,” he said. He challenged the accusation against his clients that they were in possession of un-customised goods, meaning un-registered cars.

“How did these individuals get these goods from the bond? Who authorised them?” he asked. He said his clients only give out number plates upon presentation of written authority from URA.

“The directors are not even involved in signing documents and cannot be involved in issuing number plates,” he said.

He wondered why URA was singling out Arnold and Brooklyn when there are other firms, like Tumpeco, which manufacture number plates.

“When authorities arrest fake dollars on the market, do they close the forex bureaux or banks?” he wondered.

The three directors, a Kampala lawyer and two URA officers are among 10 people charged with fraudulently issuing duplicate car number plates in a bid to evade import taxes on vehicles.

The fraud also involves forging bank payment forms for car number plates, including personalised plates for expensive cars.

The security swung into action after a tip-off that saloon cars belonging to lawyer Ambrose Tebyasa were found to bear number plates identical to already registered trailers and tractors.

According to the charge sheet, Tebyasa and his clearing agents are accused of conniving with Arnold Brooklyn and the URA officers to get duplicate number plates.

The suspects have been charged with interfering with the customs computerised system and causing financial loss, as well as being in possession of un-customed goods.

They face up to 15 years in jail, while the loss caused to the Government could be recovered through the sale of their properties. In addition, the fraudulently registered motor vehicles could be forfeited to the state.

Sources said hundreds of vehicles in Uganda are now suspected to have duplicate number plates. Some of the vehicles are believed to be owned by senior government or security officials.

This, sources said, poses a security threat. The tax body may be left with no alternative but to undertake a new re-validation of all the motor car registrations.

Car fraud suspects hit back

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