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Swiss businessman Heimhofer summoned by Hoima court over Shs 19bn land fraud

David Ferdinand Heimhofer

David Ferdinand Heimhofer

A Swiss businessman, David Ferdinand Heimhofer and his Ugandan girlfriend Mariam Kajumba have been summoned by the High court in Hoima to file their defense against accusations of putting an illegal caveat on land belonging to Testimony Motors Uganda.

The said land worth $5 million (about Shs 19.2 billion) is comprised of Block 5 plot 633 and 633 St Kayera, Buganda, Hoima district. Testimony in its petition to court dated February 9, 2024, lists Heimhofer, Terra Sola Energy Company Limited (reportedly being used by Heimhofer and Mariam Kajumba) to commit fraud and illegality on the land in issue and commissioner Land Registration as the respondents of the case.

Through its lawyers of Muwema and Company Advocates, Testimony is seeking an order that the respondents have no interest in its land and an order directing them to vacate. They are also seeking an order to hold Heimhofer and Kajumba personally liable for the lodgement of the caveat and the resultant loss and damages occasioned to the company and an order for compensation for the lodgement of the contested caveat.

Records before the court indicate that Testimony is the registered proprietor of the said land, measuring 499.7ha and that some time back in August 2022, a lawyer identified as Accram Luzinda and a land agent Jim Kibira approached Medad Osborn Twesigye, the director of Testimony with an intention to purchase the land from Heimhofer and Kajumba.

According to the records, Twesigye met Kajumba at Fairway Hotel in Kampala where they confirmed their interest in purchasing the land for a solar power project they were going to undertake with the government of Uganda. 

A survey was later done and the respondents were furnished with a report that they had incorporated the company in the name of Terra Sola Energy Limited which was going to execute the project and purchase the land.

As a result, on October 22, 2022, records show that Twesigye signed a memorandum of understanding with Heimhofer and Kajumba to buy the land at $5 million.

"The said MoU was agreed to remain valid for 10 months. However, an extension of 2 months was allowed if the defendants needed it. The purpose of the 20 months provided was to enable the defendants to carry out a feasibility study to determine the suitability of the suit land for the solar power project," reads the documents.

As a result, documents show that the defendants were supposed to pay $100,000 in 10 days as per the MoU which they didn't, but Kajumba on December 1, 2022, lodged a caveat with intentions of changing proprietorship or to start dealing with the land.

Records further show that on March 3, 2023, the company through its then lawyers T_David Wesley and Company Advocates wrote a letter to Heimhofer and Kajumba complaining about the caveat without any payments. But Kajumba reportedly replied admitting to the delays in signing the implementation agreement with the government but insisted that they had lodged a caveat to protect their investment in the project studies conducted on the suit land. 

Heimhofer in a letter dated March 8, 2023, indicated that they would instruct their local engineers to conduct further studies to identify the grid capacity in Hoima and get the government to agree to this study to trigger a $100,000 payment.

However, it is said that no payment was made and Testimony kept engaging Heimhofer and Kajumba on WhatsApp to at least remove the caveat but the respondents remained adamant.

Testimony on May 17, 2023, later hired Muwema and Company Advocates to demand the release of the caveat. But on May 22, 2023, the respondents through their lawyers of M/S Wamimbi Advocates and Solicitors responded that the caveat was to protect "its interest and money expended so far".

"The said defendant's lawyers also indicated that they were amenable to a harmonious settlement of the matter but all efforts to contact them or their principals for a negotiated settlement of the matter were futile," adds the document.

In December 2023, Testimony obtained a serious investor from the United Arab Emirates who was interested in purchasing the suit land for a sugar project and the company director Twesigye once again got in touch with Heimhofer and Kajumba to remove a caveat but was ignored.

Records also indicate that when Twesigye did due diligence on Terra Sola Energy Limited, it was established that it had a paltry share capital of only Shs 10 million with no registered office or assets in Uganda.

"The plaintiff established the 1st defendant/David doesn't conduct any business in Uganda and the 1st and 2nd defendants are using its veil of corporate personality as a mask to defraud the plaintiff," reads the documents. 

Documents also show that it was established that the 1st and 2nd defendants are controlling Solar Energy Limited which caused the lodgement of the caveat on the land.

Testimony argues that during the hearing of this case, they will argue that the defendants or any of them did not acquire any caveatable or other interest in the suit land under the terms of the MoU.

The court has given the respondents 15 days within which they can file their defense to the accusations once they have been served with the court summons before the matter can be allocated to a judge who will then fix it for hearing.

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