By Watchdog reporter
Solicitor General Francis Atoke has on Tuesday spilled shs6 billion handshake beans in parliament as tough talking Abdu Katuntu and other MPs put harder questions to him regarding his role in the infamous Heritage case bonus following the settlement between Uganda and the oil company in an arbitration court.
The solicitor general is the top government accounting officer but Katuntu’s committee on statutory and state enterprises (COSASEUg) put him under oath before they proceeded with his submissions on #6bnhandshake.
Atoke informed COSASEUg that he got net Sh129million on his account but was not aware of the source of the money. He later told MPs that minutes for the meeting that decided on shs6 billion handshake wasn’t taken because that was the norm since minutes in Statehouse meetings are not taken.
When Katuntu asked him if the #6bnHandshake was a virement or reallocation, the Solicitor General said it was a reallocation.
The committee heard that USD10 million was spent in legal costs and USD 4m in legal costs. However the solicitor general could not explain how an additional shs6 billion Handshake would be added to the expenditure.
However SG Atoke said, “This is not an ordinary court. The tribunal doesn’t reward exorbitant costs. We are even lucky.”
When asked by Katuntu if he consulted with Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) before making this statement, Atoke said, “Yes”, admitting that he also asked the pertinent questions.
The ongoing parliamentary probe also heard that SG Atoke could not ask many questions to URA boss Doris Akol out of respect.
“I don’t think it was necessary for me to ask a fellow lawyer(Akol) questions regarding procedures. This will belittling.”
The Solicitor General however told MPs that he will go back and cross check the tax component of his #6bnHandshake, and Katuntu directed him to submit Agreement between government of Uganda and the London lawyers to Clerk of Parliament.
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