A one Bulegeya Joshua was taken into custody during a joint intelligence operation with police led by the Uganda Revenue Authority on businesses suspected to be involved in the forgery of Digital Tax Stamps (DTS) on gazetted products.
He was incarcerated for operating an illegal business and counterfeiting ambience waragi gin. Bulegeya’s operation stretched throughout Nansana and to adjacent towns.
“The alert on the tax fraud scheme was as a result of a lodged complaint to Uganda Police by Mr. Kiyimba Joseph, the Managing Director of Ambiance Distillers Ltd,’’ revealed Mr Denis Kugonza, the URA Commissioner of Tax Investigations.
Mr. Kiyimba similarly informed URA about his concerns regarding the tax crimes being committed under his business name by Bulegeya who was affixing forged digital tax stamps on counterfeit ambience waragi gin packed in 200ml plastic bottles.
URA submitted the seized samples to its science laboratory for forensic examination to ascertain the validity of the digital tax stamps in contention. Indeed, as suspected, the results indicated that the digital tax stamps were forged and the products were counterfeit.
The suspect appeared before the Anti-Corruption court and was remanded to Luzira prison on two counts of forgery of a stamp contrary to section 350(a) of the Penal Code Act, CAP 120 and being in possession of a forged tax stamp contrary to Section 62nd of the Tax Procedures Code (Amendment) Act 2022 as amended.
To avoid similar consequences, URA encourages all manufacturers and importers of DTS-gazetted products to always comply with the requirements of the tax laws which creates a level ground for all players. Taxpayers are also implored to always alert URA whenever they have information about businesses they suspect of counterfeiting and forging digital tax stamps.
The use of Digital Tax Stamps was rolled out in 2019 as a requirement for excisable products whether produced locally or imported in Uganda. These products currently include beer, soda, bottled water, wines, spirits, tobacco products, sugar, cement, cooking oil, juices, and alcoholic, non-alcoholic and fermented beverages.
One of the benefits of Digital Tax Stamps to registered taxpayers is that it reduces unfair competition that comes with the counterfeiting of products. Therefore, those who deal in the listed products are encouraged by URA to register for Excise Duty and to enrol for the Digital Tracking Solution.