Who is that girl: peeling mask on Enrica Pinetti

On Tuesday, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Anita Among, was forced to express a “need to save this country”. This followed revelations that three years of ‘building’ a specialist hospital in Lubowa had not even resulted in a foundation.

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Finance Committee, Mr. Keefa Kiwanuka (Kiboga East), was therefore tasked to present a report on the matter.

Finasi, the company – with tentacles on the continents of Europe, Africa and Asia – which in 2019 received a promissory loan worth 1.4 trillion shillings from the Government of Uganda (GoU) to build the hospital, will undoubtedly be illuminated by the spotlights.

The company is owned by Enrica Pinetti alias, Enrica Maria Aristinina, an Italian investor shrouded in mystery.

Ms Pinetti also recently found herself in the middle of another storm. The Italian witnessed a controversial coffee processing deal between the GoU and the Uganda Vinci Coffee Company Limited (UVCC) which continues into 2032. A Saturday Monitor investigation found the Italian is the chairman of the UVCC.

The coffee processing agreement gives UVCC exclusive rights to sell and market Ugandan coffee in the international market. It also exempts the company from paying import duties, value added taxes, excise duties, stamp duties and corporation tax. To top it all off, the GoU has UVCC free land thanks to the agreement.

Disturbing portrait
When Ms Pinetti flashed the deal in the company of Finance Minister Matia Kasaija as a camera clicked, Ugandans were always going to take a deep dive into her personality. Data from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) Offshore Leaks Database paints a disturbing picture of Ms Pinetti.

The ICIJ says its database “contains information on more than 800,000 offshore entities that are part of the Pandora Papers, Paradise Papers, Bahamas Leaks, Panama Papers and Offshore Leaks investigations.”

He adds, “The records span more than 80 years to 2020 and connect people and businesses in more than 200 countries and territories.”

The leaked files, according to the ICIJ, offer evidence and statistics – money transfers, merger dates, links between companies and individuals – that demonstrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread destructively around the world, enabling the affluent and affluent linked to tax evasion and corruption and economic anxieties in rich and poor countries.

ICIJ offshore leak data from 2010 shows Ms Pinetti was both a shareholder and director of Finmed Design Consultancy Ltd, Medfin Engineering Ltd and Finasset General Contractor Ltd from 15 April 2008 before being transferred on 15 April 2009. According to the findings of the ICIJ, the companies’ jurisdictions were in both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the British Virgin Islands, a Caribbean archipelago that is part of the British Overseas Territories. She also had an agent dubbed Common Wealth Trust Fund Ltd for good measure.

It is not clear what type of activity these companies were engaged in. Calls and emails to the Italian Embassy in Uganda to offer clarification on its citizen went unanswered. The portrait of Ms. Pinetti sketched by the ICIJ is that of a devious operator whose secret offshore deals show that she has no qualms about taking an interest in clandestine transactions and the concealment of assets. When the Saturday Monitor asked the Treasury why due diligence hadn’t alerted its top officials to such a troubled past, the answer was tenuous.

“You heard what the Attorney General (Kiryowa Kiwanuka) said,” Finance Ministry spokesman Jim Mugunga said. “He said the contract was correct which means he did his due diligence on this person and he found nothing wrong. You heard what the Permanent Secretary for Finance (Ramathan Ggoobi ) said: that the contract has no problem and that means that he is comfortable with this investor.

In defense of Pinetti
Mr. Kiryowa Kiwanuka recently stated The new view that the contract does not violate any Ugandan law. “This agreement has been in effect since 2015 and my office has handled this matter and has not found that it violates the laws of this country,” he said, adding, “I authorized the agreement for signature and my opinion is that it does not violate any Ugandan laws.

Ms Pinetti is from Oltrepò Pavese, a region in the province of Pavia in the Lombardy region of northwestern Italy. She reportedly registered up to seven companies in the tax havens of the British Virgin Islands and the United Arab Emirates in April 2008.

Apart from Medfin, Finmed and Finasset, some of the other companies include Finasi Engineering Arca Magna and Asico Consulting Group Ltd. All seven entities are headquartered at Trinity Group in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai).

While UVCC is located in Uganda (Plot 2, Summit View in upmarket Kololo), a Saturday Monitor investigation found that the company’s share capital of $10 million, divided into 1,000 common shares of 10 000 dollars each, is divided by four people and one entity. – are either based in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, the largest state in the United Arab Emirates.

The United Arab Emirates has established itself over the years as one of the fastest growing tax havens in the world. In 2021, the Tax Justice Network (TJN) estimated that multinational corporations funneled more than $200 billion into the country to avoid taxes.

A year earlier, in 2020, data co-curated by TJN, Public Services International (PSI) and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GA4TJ) showed that African governments are losing an estimated $25 billion per year due to corporate abuse by multinational corporations that shift their profits offshore. tax havens and individuals who engage in tax evasion through undeclared assets.

Of these losses, research by the TJN indicated that $23.2 billion (about 82 trillion shillings) are lost due to tax abuse by multinational corporations and $2.3 billion (about 8 trillion shillings) are lost through personal tax evasion. The money in question is equivalent to the annual salary of 10.1 million nurses on the continent or is enough to pay $21 per person of the continent’s 1.2 billion people.

Cost implications
While more than $1.2 billion (Shs. 4 trillion) is lost to East African governments – Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda – research has shown that Fiscal loss of $25.7 billion (approximately Shs. 91 trillion) each year is equivalent to 52.46 percent of the continent’s combined health expenditure and is equivalent to 28.67 percent of the continent’s combined education expenditure. ‘Africa.

“Multinationals have paid billions in taxes less than they should have by shifting $1.38 trillion in profits out of the countries where they were generated to tax havens, where corporate tax rates are extremely low or non-existent. Private tax evaders paid less tax than they should have by storing a total of over $10 trillion in offshore financial assets,” the research found.

Although research has indicated that in the East Africa region, Kenya is the hardest hit, losing $565.8 million (Shs. 1.9 billion) per year – 502.4 million dollars (Shs. 1.7 billion) to businesses and $63.3 million (about Shs. 224 billion) to individuals – and depriving the country of many – needed money for development and the provision of essential services, Uganda fared no better.

Specifically, Uganda suffers losses of $115.3 million (Shs407b), of which $96.5 million (Shs341b) is due to corporate tax evasion and $18.7 million (Shs63b) to the individual, or the equivalent of 31.43% of public health expenditure or the annual salary of 83,658 nurses.

Uganda also inflicts a tax loss of $14.3 million (Shs50b) on other countries, according to the research.
Yet the Ugandan government was quick to defend Ms Pinetti even in the face of the stalled Lubowa hospital project which left Ms Among perplexed.

Mr Ggoobi, the Treasury Secretary, recently blamed the delays on “rains and Covid-19”. The parliamentary finance committee appeared to question this defense and in fact asked the Ministry of Finance to reallocate the 319 billion shillings earmarked for the hospital in the 2022/2023 budget.

As for the coffee deal, lawmakers are threatening to torpedo the deal which they say will create a monopoly if it sticks.

Government officials, including Mr. Kasaija, Mr. Ggoobi and Ms. Pinetti, were all summoned.

In the midst of all this, there was the silence of President Museveni. Shadow Finance Minister Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) said Ugandans should not expect parliament to play the role of Mr Fix-it.

“Parliament is like a morgue,” he said, adding: “It receives a corpse. We can only find out the cause of death.

A year earlier, in 2020, data co-curated by TJN, Public Services International (PSI) and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice (GA4TJ) showed that African governments are losing an estimated $25 billion per year due to corporate abuse by multinational corporations that shift their profits offshore. tax havens and individuals who engage in tax evasion through undeclared assets.

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