The Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) has regarded as false reports indicating that the Chief Coordinator of Operation Wealth Creation, Retired Gen Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh, owns shares in Leaf Tobacco Ltd and Meridian Tobacco Company Ltd.
URSB is a semi-autonomous government agency, established by an Act of Parliament responsible for civil registrations, business registrations, registration of patents and intellectual property rights.
In a statement, Bemanya Twebaze, Registrar General, URSB, said that the allegations that Saleh has shares in the two companies are mere lies peddled by self-seeking individuals aimed at misinforming the public.
Rwandan blogs close to Kigali authorities have since 2018 been circulating reports that Gen Saleh owns 15% shares of Meridian Tobacco Company valued USD 20 million (Shs 72 billion) which is owned by Rwandan businessman, Tribert Ayabatwa Rujugiro.
Rujugiro is accused by Rwandan authorities of funding ‘terrorists’ against the government of Rwanda. The businessman who has investments in 24 other countries in the world including Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Africa, Angola and United Arab Emirates, refutes the allegations as careless and baseless.
In an interview, he said that his income from Uganda is less than 10% of his total income from investments around the world and that if he was interested in funding rebellion in and against the Rwandan regime, he could use the income from his investments in other countries. He urged Kigali authorities to deal with their internal problems and desist from projecting their issues onto innocent individuals.
Rwandan authorities have for the past two years attempted to link individuals in Government of the Republic of Uganda to Rwandans groups that disagree with the Kigali establishment.
“They circulate forged documents to project Gen Saleh as owning shares in Rujugiro’s company in order to justify a narrative that Uganda is responsible for growing internal political dissent in Rwanda and to link Uganda to senior Rwandan army officers who escaped from Rwanda and now live in exile,” a knowledgeable source told this news site.
Rwandan President Kagame requested President Museveni to expel businessman Rujugiro from Uganda and close his businesses. Museveni, in response, advised President Kagame that Uganda can freeze the businessman’s assets only if Rwanda proved in a Ugandan court of law that Rujugiro is engaged in funding terrorism. It is not clear whether President Kagame has asked other African countries where Rujugiro own investments to expel him and freeze his assets.
Now, URSB’s Bemanya says: “According to records kept by the Registrar of Companies, the two entities are corporate bodies registered/incorporated under the companies Act, laws of Uganda as limited liability companies.”
“Leaf Tobacco and Commodities Ltd is registered as a Foreign owned company, while Meridian Tobacco Company Ltd is incorporated as a Local Company owned by two persons, none of who is Gen Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh,” he says.
“This is therefore to clarify that Gen Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh is not and has never been a shareholder nor a Director in the said two companies,” Bemanya adds.
URSB says information regarding companies or businesses registered by the bureau is readily available for public usage.