News and Views
Tullow Oil apologises to Ugandan government over bribery allegations
A report appeared in the Telegraph that Heritage QC Khawar Qureshi referred in court to an email from Tullow’s exploration director Angus McCoss, which appeared to insinuate that Tullow officials had considered bribing president Yoweri Museveni for oil exploration rights.
In the email, documented in the court transcripts, McCoss wrote: “I wouldn’t be surprised if M7 gets a fat wedge of election campaign money from some shadowy player for the rights to [oil exploration block] area 3A, and that would just be the first in a series as the various licence deadlines clock nearer month by month.”
Heritage alleged that “M7” refers to Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni.
Tullow strongly denies the allegations made by Heritage, describing the charges as “entirely false innuendo” and “groundless mudslinging”.
The company’s apology to president Museveni follows a letter sent by the politician’s lawyers, which said the president was “gravely injured by these false statements” and gave Tullow three days to respond.
Jimmy Mugerwa, general manager for Tullow Uganda, said: “The embarrassment caused to His Excellency the President of Uganda and the people of Uganda by these false allegations and reports is deeply regretted by Tullow. No Tullow director has ever suggested or considered making payments to HE the president.
“Furthermore, at no time has His Excellency ever suggested that Tullow should make such payments, and any allegation to the contrary is false and misleading.”
Aidan Heavey, Tullow’s chief executive and founder, has written to president Museveni separately to say that Tullow will take “all necessary action to clarify the facts to the public” once the London court proceedings have finished.
Referring to his 27 years building up Tullow into Africa’s largest independent exploration and production company, Heavey said: “At no point has any allegation of corruption been substantiated in respect of Tullow’s management.”
Tullow is suing Heritage to recover $313m (£206m) of capital gains tax it says it wrongly paid on its $1.45bn acquisition of Heritage’s three Ugandan oilfields.