Buganda Road chief magistrate’s court on Thursday heard that what was supposed to be an investment opportunity for an American therapist who had desired to venture into gold business in Congo turned into a nightmare when he was eventually ended up in Uganda and was conned.
Former Kampala Lord Mayor aspirant Muhammad Kasule was recently charged with obtaining money by false pretense when he conned a senior presidential assistant in charge of diaspora issues Florence Kiremerwa and her business partner Richard Richards of huge sums of money after promising to sell them two kilogrammes of gold which never was.
Testifying in the case on Thursday, Richards, an American therapist told court that in May 2017, he went to the Congolese embassy in Washington in a bid to get a visa that would allow him come to Africa and trade in gold before he met Kiremerwa at the mission who introduced herself as a representative of Ugandans in the diaspora.
“As we chatted, I told her I wanted a visa to Congo and she told me she knew someone who I could do business with in Uganda. Florence then called I later came to know as Muhammad Kasule,”Richards told court on Thursday.
“I told him I was interested in starting gold business and he said he was the Managing Director for Blue Diamond Corporation. I told him I needed to start by buying two kilograms of gold.”
The US citizen narrated that Kasule assured him of the availability of any amounts of gold he wished for prompting him to change his mind from going to Congo and applied for the Ugandan visa and it was later granted.
According to the witness, as he prepared to come to Uganda, he decided to transfer $50,000 to Kiremerwa’s Ugandan account because he didn’t have one.
“We had agreed that Kasule would sell me each gram at $25 and the two kilograms would go for $50,000. I then arranged to fly together with Florence who was at the time returning to Uganda.”
He said that on reaching Entebbe airport, they found a driver waiting for them before driving them to a hotel where they met Kasule the following day and he showed them gold bars.
“He asked me for the money and we sent it to his account from Florence’s. He later confirmed receipt of the money.”
He however told court that Kasule asked him to book to fly back to the US the next day, contrary to his earlier schedule before asking him to be at the airport by 1pm to sign the custom papers and seal the consignment.
“When we reached the airport, Kasule was nowhere to be seen and his phone was off.”
The witness said when they called one of Kasule’s friend, they finally got him before he later arrived at the airport and told them of the change of the program.
“He said I could not travel with the gold on the plane because it would be stolen at Addis Ababa airport .He said he would send the gold through Emirates cargo and that I would find it in the US.”
He added, “Kasule gave me a paper for Emirates cargo that he told me to present to Emirates office in the US but on reaching there, I was told no one had sent the cargo.”
The witness said up to now he has never received the gold he had bought from Kasule.