Special Reports

Swiss court freezes Uganda accounts over Shs1bn

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The High Court in Geneva, Switzerland, has ordered for the freezing of all assets, precious stones and any official account of the government of Uganda.

This followed the government’s failure to pay $300,000 (Shs1b) in damages awarded to a Ugandan woman, Irene Kalibala, for unfair dismissal.

The Daily Monitor quotes a court order dated July 14 directed to Uganda’s United Nations Mission in Geneva and ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala.

The Swiss labour court, which awarded the claim and a High Court order in which government lost the appeal, had all gone unheeded by the embassy.

The orders were also extended to Uganda mission’s bank account holder, Union Bank of Switzerland/UBS and also served to both officials in Geneva and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kampala.

Court also stipulated that court fees and related costs that bound from government’s failure to pay shall be borne by the mission.

Already, the $300,000 attracts 5 per cent interest per annum until payment is completed.

The latest order came after a March 7 ruling by the same court in which government lost the appeal challenging the judgment by the labour court awarding Ms Kalibala damages.

Government paid a Swiss lawyer Pascal Tourette Shs69 million but lost the case after failing to justify Kalibala’s termination.

Before filing an application at the federal court as a prerequisite, government had to first pay a nominal fee of Shs34m (SFr10,000).

Kalibala was employed by the mission since 1999, first as a front desk administrator and was later elevated to handle public and investor relations.

In 2011, she fell out with then deputy head of mission, Ms Rosette Nyirinkindi, who she claimed caused her sacking.

By the time she was terminated, Kalibala was living in Geneva and, therefore, protected by the Swiss laws.

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