A German-Ugandan man who met President Yoweri Museveni back in 2006 as a prospective investor has bounced back on the scene for all the wrong reasons, because he isn’t carrying investment proposals and the promise of jobs this time round.
Instead, in 2018, Stefan Mirembe-Janiszewsky is accused of masterminding a number of con jobs, some of which are traced back to his native Germany. Those who have sounded the alarm, however, are from Kampala’s expatriate community, where at least three different people have lodged cases with Police in the last one month alleging that Stefan has conned them of hundreds of millions of shillings in the last few years.
A source told Matooke Republic Stefan first came to Uganda in the mid-90s and engaged in a number of business ventures, but left by the late 90s citing a harsh business environment. He returned to Germany, where, in 2003, his talent to pull off a scam first showed.
A wanted man in Germany
Stefan, 33 at the time, appeared in the German press because he was supposed to set up a car factory in Goerlitz town to manufacture vehicles under the luxury car brand- Bufori. One German newspaper B.Z. described Stefan as a “young entrepreneur” although he would soon turn out to be nothing close to an entrepreneur. Instead, even before his vehicle venture could take off, Stefan was in a local court, where he was accused of fleecing a rich Lebanese national of 180,000 euros (about Shs820m) with the promise of securing him a Rolls Royce.
Our source told us Stefan was forced to flee in a bid to sidestep justice and with a Ugandan-born wife, it perhaps was not surprising that when he next surfaced, it was in Uganda—as a potential investor, and what’s more, he was quickly able to secure himself a Ugandan passport.
“Stefan renounced his German passport after he arrived. [He] took a Ugandan one; most likely so that he couldn’t be extradited or deported,” the sourced intimated.
It is a mark of how smooth an operator he probably is that Stefan went as far as landing a meeting with President Museveni in May 2006, after which meeting The New Vision reported that the German was to establish a company, Alternative Fuel Technologies, to produce bio-diesel and generate electricity using domestic and hospital waste.
When we checked with the registrar of companies to confirm whether the company indeed exists, it did not appear anywhere in their (registrar’s) records.
Neither did his grand ideas of turning waste into electricity materialise. Nevertheless, Stefan would soon show he had lost none of his dubious gifts for making a quick buck.
His target would be Kampala’s white expatriate community. His accusers claim he used his Base Master Engineering and Taala Architectural and Marine Design companies to trick them into parting with their money, promising to supply them everything from IT to marine equipment. For three of his accusers who have reported cases to Police, all that Stefan has managed to supply them so far is air.
More than Shs1b scammed
According to one of his accusers, who requested not to be named in order not to jeopardise the ongoing investigations, Stefan has allegedly engineered scams worth more than $280,000 (Shs1b) in total, with all his known victims drawn from Kampala’s expat community.
The three cases reported to Police, according to documents seen by this newspaper, are registered as criminal fraud and have been recorded as SD-REF 18/15/02/2018, CPA KLA CRB357-2018 and SD-REF 13/27/02/2018 respectively. The first two cases relate to failure to supply boat equipment between 2015 and last year to an American and two Swedish nationals respectively, despite obtaining more than $60,000 (Shs200m) for the equipment. The third case, which dates back more than five years, relates to Stefan allegedly conning a British expat out of his IT equipment.
Our source further indicated that several other members of the expatriate community had been victims of Stefan alleged scams, including an expat-owned institution he allegedly attempted to con out of more than $100,000 (Shs360m) in 2016.
“There are several cases of people who are now willing to come out (and report),” the source said after Stefan was taken in for questioning in mid-March. “If he does not make restitution (compensation) to the three parties, he is to go to Luzira,” the source asserted.
We have learnt that while Stefan is out on police bond, things might be getting a little hotter for him soon because a source familiar with his case intimated that State House had picked interest in the matter. When we tried to reach out to the accused for his side of the story he quickly excused himself from the call saying he could not talk at the time, but promised to get back. He had not done so by the time we went to press.