RPT-Tullow refutes bribery accusations in Uganda
* Accusations stem from documents presented to house by lawmaker * Tullow says has proof that documents were forged By Jocelyn Edwards KAMPALA, April 12 (Reuters) - British oil firm Tullow Oil has refuted accusations that it was involved in bribing government officials in Uganda, where it has discovered commercial oil deposits and is expected to go into small-scale production later in the year. In October, the Ugandan parliament established a committee to probe reports that three ministers took bribes from transactions in the country's nascent oil sector. Last year, Ugandan lawmaker Gerald Karuhanga presented documents to parliament accusing Tullow of making payments to Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa and Minister of Internal Affairs Hilary Onek. On Wednesday, a Tullow delegation led by its General Counsel and Executive Director Graham Martin told the committee set up to investigate the charges of corruption that it was innocent of the accusations and that Karuhanga's documents were forged. "Tullow has, at no time, made any payments to the Ugandan Government Ministers or any other Ministers within the Ugandan Government or any other Ugandan officials. These allegations are entirely false and have been strenuously, and regularly, denied by Tullow," it said in its presentation to the committee. "Tullow has collated evidence which irrefutably proves that no payments of any sort have been made to the Ugandan Government Ministers by Tullow, and that the documentary evidence produced by Tullow's accusers ... has been forged, is absolutely false and without foundation." In February, Tullow Oil closed a long-awaited $2.9 billion deal to bring in French oil major Total and Chinese group CNOOC as partners to develop its oil fields, paving the way for commercial oil production to start in the African country. Tullow has said that it expects small-scale oil and gas production in Uganda later this year, where it says it has found 1.1 billion confirmed barrels of oil and believes there are 1.4 billion left to find. Large scale production is expected to commence in 2016.
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