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Swiss businessman summoned over Shs19billion land fraud

The Passport of the Swiss businessman David Ferdinand Heimhofer. PHOTO URN

Hoima, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The High Court sitting in Hoima has summoned a Swiss businessman David Ferdinand Heimhofer and his Ugandan girlfriend Mariam Kajumba to file a defense against accusations of putting an illegal caveat on land belonging to Testimony Motors Uganda.

The said land worth 5 million Dollars (19.2 billion shillings) is comprised of Block 5 plot 633 and 633 St Kayera, Buganda Hoima District.

Testimony Motors Uganda in its petition to the Court dated February 9th, 2024, lists David Kajumba ,Terra Sola Energy Company Limited (reportedly being used by Ferdinand Heimhofer and Mariam Kajumba)  to commit fraud and illegality on the land in issue and Commissioner Land Registration as the respondents of the case.

Through its lawyers of Muwema and Company Advocates, the Company is seeking an order that the respondents have no interest in its land and an order directing them to vacate.

They are also seeking an order to hold Ferdinand Heimhofer and Kajumba personally liable for the lodgement of the Caveat and the resultant loss and damages occasioned to the Company and an order for compensation for the lodgement of the contested caveat.

The records before the Court indicate that Testimony Motors Uganda is the registered proprietor of the said land measuring 499.7 hectares. And that some time back in August 2022, a lawyer identified as Accram Luzinda and a land agent Jim Kibira approached Medad Osborn Twesigye the Director of Testimony Motors Uganda with another to purchase the land from David and Kajumba.

According to the records, Twesigye met Mariam Kajumba at Fairway Hotel in Kampala where they confirmed their interest in purchasing the land for a solar power project they were going to undertake with the government of Uganda.

A survey was later done and the respondents were furnished with a report that they had incorporated the company in the name of Terra Sola Energy Limited which was going to execute the project and purchase the land.

As a result, on October 22nd, 2022, records show that Twesigye signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ferdinand Heimhofer and Mariam  Kajumba to buy the land at USD 5 million.

“The said MoU was agreed to remain valid for 10 months. However, an extension of 2 months was allowed if the defendants needed it.  The purpose of the 20 months provided was to enable the defendants to carry out a feasibility study to determine the suitability of the suit land for the solar power project”, reads the documents.

As a result, documents show that the defendants were supposed to pay 100,000 Dollars in ten days as per the MoU which they didn’t, but Mariam Kajumba on December 1st, 2022 lodged a caveat with intentions of changing proprietorship or to start dealing with the land.

Records further show that on March 3rd, 2023, the Company through its then lawyers T_David Wesley and Company Advocates wrote a letter to Ferdinand Heimhofer and Mariam Kajumba complaining about the caveat without any payments. But David Kajumba reportedly replied admitting to the delays in signing the implementation agreement with the government but insisted that they had lodged a caveat to protect their investment in the project studies conducted on the suit land.

David Kajumba in a letter dated e March 8th, 2023 indicated that they would instruct their local engineers to conduct further studies to identify the grid capacity in Hoima and get the Government to agree to this study to trigger payment of the 100,000 USD.

However, it is said that no payment was made and Testimony Motors Uganda kept engaging David Mariam Kajumba on WhatsApp to at least remove the caveat but the respondents remained adamant.

Testimony Motors Uganda on May 17th,2023 later hired Muwema and Company Advocates to demand the release of the caveat.  But on May  22nd, 2023 the respondents through their lawyers of M/S Wamimbi Advocates and Solicitors responded that the Caveat was to protect “it’s interest and money expended so far”.

“The said defendant’s lawyers also indicated that they were amenable to a harmonious settlement of the matter but all efforts to contact them or their principals for a negotiated settlement of the matter were futile,” adds the document.

In December 2023, Testimony Motors Uganda obtained a serious investor from the United Arab Emirates who was interested in purchasing the suit land for a sugar project the Company Director Twesigye once again got in touch with Ferdinand Heimhofer  and Mariam Kajumba to remove a caveat but he was ignored.

Records also indicate that when Twesigye did due diligence on Terra Sola Energy Limited, it was established that it had a paltry share capital of only 10 million shillings with no registered office or asset in Uganda.

“The plaintiff established the 1st Defendant/David doesn’t conduct any business in Uganda and the 1st and 2nd Defendants are using its veil of corporate personality as a mask to defraud the plaintiff”, reads the documents.

Documents also show that it was established that the 1st and 2nd Defendants are controlling the mind of the Solar Energy Limited who caused the lodgement of the caveat on the land.

Testimony Motors Uganda argues that during the hearing of this case, they will argue that the defendants or any of them did not acquire any caveatable or other interest in the suit land under the terms of the MoU.

The Court has given the respondents 15 days within which they can file their defense to the accusations once they have been served with the court summons before the matter can be allocated to a Judge who will then fix it for hearing.

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