Hwan Sung boss sold ghost land

Police in Kampala are investigating a land fraud case in which suspected fraudsters reportedly connived with officials of the land office at Wakiso district headquarters to forge a South Korean diplomat’s passport and land title to obtain a 4.5 acre piece of land. Directors at Hwan Sung Industries in Ntinda Industrial Area, Kampala were alarmed after a tipoff that private prime land, belonging to their chairman, Sung Hwan-Kim, a former honorary consul of the South Korean embassy in Uganda had been transferred into other names.

The land located at Kyadondo Block 232 Plot 948, at Kireka and Banda in Mengo, overlooks Mandela National Stadium in Namboole in Kireka in Kira municipality. It measures 4.5acreas (1.85ha) estimated to cost $360,000, (about sh1.5b). The land was sold to Kim in 1999 by Dr George William Ssamula. According to documents seen by the New Vision, the alleged fraudsters forged Kim’s passport and signature authorising transfer of the title into the names of Kalungi Moses Kasule and Dirisa Bukenya. Kim holds a diplomatic passport but the one retrieved from the land registrar bearing a different photo is an ordinary one.

The purported transfer for the land in Kireka and Banda bears the stamp and signature of one Augustine Ssemakula, an advocate and commissioner for oaths, dated September, 19, 2018. It bears instrument number 18, Wak00190453 and the purported signature of the Registrar of Titles. The New Vision has also seen a Diamond Trust Bank receipt for sh5.4m the fraudsters paid on September 19, 2018 as transfer fees.

The transfer bears two passports of the alleged fraudsters and a different photograph of a white man purporting to be Kim, and authorising the transfer, whereas he is not. Jason Suh, the managing director of Hwan Sung Industries, said that on learning about the fraud, they informed Kim who was in South Korea who contacted his lawyers Albert Byamugisha, who on December 10, 2018 lodged a caveat before the Registrar of Titles seeking to halt and cancel the transfer. When contacted, Byamugisha said he had also filed a case in the High Court seeking the cancellation of the transfer for the purposes of restoring it to the rightful owner.

He said they also filed a case of forgery of land title before the CID’s land a protection Unit in Kibuli, registered as CID Ref. LPPU Gef465/2018. The Interpol and CID spokesperson, Vincent Ssekate, said that on investigating, the Police found out that some unknown individuals forged documents to transfer the title. However, they have written to the Commissioner of Lands to block the transactions.

The Police have also asked the commissioner to cancel the forged transactions and restore Kim as the original owner. According to Ssekate, the suspects were still at large but investigations were going on and once arrested they would be prosecuted. Ali Mwandah, the area local council chairperson, said the fraud came to light when he was contacted by Kim’s directors to get them potential buyers of the land. After he identified a potential buyer, Ali says they went to the land registry and a search revealed that the piece of land had been transferred into other names.

“I was alarmed because I knew nobody had bought the land yet. I immediately contacted Kim’s office and commissioned their lawyer to follow the matter,” he said.