Igara west MP Michael Mawanda, former regional minister Isaac Musumba and a businessman Yakuba Mathai have been arrested in India for allegedly trying to extort US$20 million from four directors of electronics giant Videocon.
By Mary Karugaba
SUNDAY VISION - Igara west MP Michael Mawanda, former regional minister Isaac Musumba and a businessman Yakuba Mathai have been arrested in India for allegedly trying to extort US$20 million from four directors of electronics giant Videocon.
Permanent Secretary ministry of Foreign affairs, James Mugume confirmed the arrest but said the matter is being handled by the Ugandan high Commission in India.
“Yes they were arrested for extortion but after the High Commission intervention, they were allowed back to the Hotel and the matter is being handled,” Mugume said.
According an Indian newspaper Mumbai Mirror, the three were arrested on Friday by the MRA marg police from the Trident Hotel at midnight.
Quoting the police, the newspaper said the three visited the corporate office of Videocon industries on Thursday afternoon and claimed they had an arrest international warrant for the four directors of the company.
“They met officials at the corporate office and said that they had come from Uganda to arrest four directors of the company against whom Interpol has issued an international warrant,” A senior police officer told Mumbai Mirror.
“They claimed that Videocon had invested in a mining business in Uganda in 2009, but the four directors suddenly wrapped up the business within six months, signed a memorandum of understanding with the partner and left the country, duping several investors.” The police officer added.
The two politicians reportedly told the office staff to inform the four directors about their visit and get in touch with them at the Trident.
When the Videocon legal team met the team at the hotel, the two reportedly informed them that they would settle the matter if the four directors paid them $20 million.
“If not, they said, they would arrest them. The legal team informed their office of the trio's demands, upon which Marven Fernandes, one of the directors, approached the police and registered a case against them,” the newspaper quotes the police as saying.
“The MRA marg police registered a case of extortion, fraudulent removal or concealment of property, and common intention against the trio. Though the investigation is on and they are being questioned, we are also checking if the accused have diplomatic immunity,” said Ravindra Shisve, deputy commissioner of police (zone 1) said.
Although Maranga and Musumba, hold diplomatic passports, they said they had gone to India for personal businesses upon interrogation.
Musumba is quoted to have said he had come to provide legal advice to Mathai.
Police reportedly notified the Indian ministry of external affairs and investigations on whether Maranga and Musumba are entitled to diplomatic immunity.
When contacted, Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Ambassador James Mugume said was not aware of the arrests but promised to check with the Uganda high commission in India.
He declined to divulge further details on the trio’s travel.
But sources at the ministry told Newvision that Muranga and the team was seen at the ministry of Foreign Affairs with a letter sent by a senior cabinet minister seeking for assistance to travel to United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“They came and wanted assistance to travel to UAE to do something. I don’t know how they ended up in India,” the source said.
Musumba, a lawyer, is the current chairman of the board of Uganda Registration Service Bureau while Maranga, is a legislator from the Igara East constituency and also a director at one of the cement companies. He seats on several committee in parliament.
He a member of the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises and Finance and economic committee.
Musumba, MP Mawanda arrested over extortion in India