PIC: Businessman Christian Ssenabulya narrating his ordeal. He was conned of sh407m. (Ronnie Kijjambu)
BUSINESS | FRAUD
A Ugandan businessman is crying foul after a German national fleeced him of 94,740 Euros (sh407m) in a botched printing machine purchase deal.
Christian Ssenabulya, the proprietor of St. Christian Graphics Limited, located in Nsambya, Kampala, wired the money to Rolf Peter Mergell in February 2015 for procurement of two used printing machines. But Mergell, who works with PM Graphisches Maschinen Contor UG, based in Germany, never met his part of the bargain.
How it started
“I was introduced to Mergell by a Dutch friend and I travelled to Germany to inspect the machines he was selling in November 2014. One was a two-colour printer, while the other was a four-colour printer,” Ssenabulya said.
On returning to Kampala, Ssenabulya processed the money and wired it to Mergell, so he could ship the machines to Uganda. But Mergell kept giving Ssenabulya empty promises until May 2015, when he (Mergell) committed himself to sending the printers in writing.
On July 29, 2015, however, Mergell sent Ssenabulya a letter, claiming his machines had been confiscated by the German revenue authorities. He, however, did not give reasons for the alleged confiscation of his machines, according to Ssenabulya.
“That is when I realised that this man could have been lying all along. I contacted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and sought their intervention. They contacted our embassy in Germany, which crosschecked and found out that the machines had never been seized as Mergell had claimed,” Ssenabulya narrated.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Uganda) in August 2015 contacted the German Embassy in Uganda about Ssenabulya’s predicament, and the embassy advised Ssenabulya to hire a lawyer and sue Mergell. Ssenabulya also opened a case with the International Police (Interpol) against Mergell.
A communication from Interpol Wiesbaden dated April 29, 2016, showed that Mergell had sold his company (PM Graphisches Maschinen Contor UG) to new management.
Matter in court
With the help of Uganda’s embassy in German, Ssenabulya got a lawyer, Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Schmidt, who filed a case of obtaining money by false pretence against Mergell.
Mergell, who was represented by Closhen and Partner attorneys, later acknowledged that he owed Ssenabulya money and opted for an out-of-court settlement.
He accepted to refund the money by March 15, 2017, but did not.