February 16, is a holy day in Uganda as Church of Uganda commemorates Bishop Janani Luwum, but as Ugandans took a rest , city lawyer Simon Peter Musangala was being forced into security detention at SIU Kireka on crimes he was yet to learn.
He was picked from his office.
“I used that holiday to finish some pending work. While I was meeting with a few of my staff at the Chambers, a number of security operatives sealed off the premises and arrested me,” he recollects the grisly incident.
While at SIU, a dreaded security facility manned by both Police and the Military Musangala was told that his charge was “facilitating money laundering.”
As a lawyer, “I wondered,” because there is no way authorities could prefer that charge against him when the people (clients) he has worked for were in the country and he worked on their direct instructions which he had in writing.
Musangala would later be taken to Anti-Corruption Court and sent to Kitalya Prison where he spent two weeks before applying for bail.
He is now out of Prison on bail. But he has vowed to pursue these American clients who not only fleeced him of $300,000 legal fees but tainted his image and fixed him to Prison, a place he only visited previously to check on his clients not as a suspect.
Late last year, Musangala got in touch with an American businessman identified as Thomas Belesis who told him that he picked his particulars from the internet and upon reading through his profile, he was convinced that Musangala was the right person to deal with.
Belesis, a man with a tacky past according to reports stuffed on google, told Musangala on phone that through his attorney Chad Altieri they had conducted due diligence on Musangala and Co. Advocates and found it fit to work with.
“Belesis then told me he was a minerals’ dealer, trading in gold, copper and diamond. I told them we would work together,” Musangala told this website.
The lawyer kept in touch with his clients for a while and they had never met.
On December 9, they asked Musangala to invite them to Uganda through writing so as they could come for a business meeting.
Musangal then wrote two letters; to Chad and Belesis while referring to their passports.
In the letters Musangala indicated that the duo was invited for a business meeting in respect to their intended business transactions and while in Uganda they could have an opportunity to tour Uganda’s endowed vast natural resources.
On December 13, Belesis and Chad jetted into Uganda and informed their Ugandan attorney of their arrival but said they would invite him to the hotel at Speke Resort Munyonyo when they settle in.
A few days later, Belesis and Chad directed Musangala to open up a company in Uganda known as Age Holdings Limited that deals in minerals.
They also tasked him to get use his connections to get them citizenship papers from Immigrations and also work permits.
Age Holdings Limited was indeed certified as a legal entity on December 22 authorized by Marion Tugumisirize who represented the Registrar General of Companies.
The company was given 8002000284365 as serial number.
These foreigners gave Musangala 10% share in the company and appointed him the company secretary with powers to execute any transactions in their absence.
Belesis and Chad started using the address of Musangala law firm as their office.
Now that Belesis and Chad had a company, they revealed to Musangala that they had ordered for 800 kilograms of gold from Cameroon and it would come to Uganda through illegal means by smugglers.
They started instructing him to pay cash to some people they identified as “our suppliers.”
This website has seen a bank statement of transaction (withdrawals) amounting to $3.2 million which Belesis instructed Musangala to give the suppliers they were working with to secure the goods (gold).
The money was paid out in installments.
Documents obtained by this website further reveal that Musangala and the Americans made legit transactions.
Acting on specific instructions of Thomas and Chad, Musangala paid out money to Abdul Mugabo trading as Kingsway Logistics Limited as well as to the clients themselves.
Also Belesis while away in Kenya for almost a month to secure the gold kept asking Musangala to withdraw and send him money.
At some point Musangala paid out $2.9m to Mugabo on Belesis’ orders.
Unknown to Musangala, the Americans had prior to meeting him entered into an agreement with Mugabo who Allegedly undertook to supply them with 800 kilograms of gold. The agreement had been concluded on April 15, 2020, eight months before Thomas engaged Musangala. According to the invoice we obtained, Mugabo was to spend the money on paying government royalties, and freight charges, among others.
This confirmed to Musangala that his clients had been in Uganda before something that they had never told him as their lawyer.
Early February, when Musangala expressed discontent at the manner in which the Americans were spending money to secure gold he had never seen, he was gradually excluded from the dealings.
This happened when he had not been paid the legal fees which had accumulated to $300, 000.
“I had become a partner remember I was given 10% of the shares and I felt concerned as shareholder since these people were depleting the bank accounts to get the gold I had never seen,” Musangala confessed.
Even when Belesis and Chad told him that the gold had arrived in Uganda, until today Musangala has never seen its colour.
To his surprise on 16th February he was shocked to learn that the Americans had planned his arrest on grounds that he defrauded them, a charge that later turned into facilitating money laundering.
This website will publish more details…..watch the space..!