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Civic groups condemn Uganda oil secrecy

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KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Transparency watchdogs say the closed-door arbitration between Uganda and the U.K.-listed Heritage Oil is the latest example of the secrecy plaguing the East African country’s oil sector.

Private proceedings deny Ugandans the right to know how the country’s oil wealth is being managed, the groups say. A tribunal in London is expected to start hearings Tuesday.

George Boden of Global Witness said Tuesday that Uganda’s Western donors “need to question the hypocrisy of a London arbitration process which deprives Ugandan civil society of the ability to hold their own government to account on vast public assets.”

The tribunal will decide if Heritage Oil should pay $435 million in a capital gains tax from the company’s $1.45 billion sale of two Ugandan oil blocks to Tullow Oil in July 2010.

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