Britain sanctions three Ugandan officials under anti-corruption laws

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain sanctioned the speaker of the Ugandan parliament, Anita Among, and two high profile Ugandan lawmakers on Tuesday, targeting corruption in the east African country for the first time with its sanctions regime.

Among plus Mary Kitutu and Agnes Nandutu, former ministers for the Karamoja region, will be subject to travel bans and asset freezes under the UK's Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime.

Britain said Kitutu and Nandutu had stolen thousands of iron sheets from a government-funded housing project aimed at helping vulnerable communities in Karamoja. Among had benefited from the proceeds of the theft, London's statement added.

"The UK is sending a clear message to those who think benefiting at the expense of others is acceptable. Corruption has consequences and you will be held responsible," Britain's deputy foreign minister Andrew Mitchell said in a statement.

"The actions of these individuals, in taking aid from those who need it most, and keeping the proceeds, is corruption at its worst and has no place in society."

Both Kitutu and Nandutu have been charged with corruption in Uganda and their cases remain in the courts. They could not immediately be reached for comment on the British sanctions.

Uganda's parliament spokesman, Chris Obore, told Reuters that the sanctions against the speaker were linked to British anger over an anti-homosexuality law passed in Uganda.

"Uganda has regulatory, investigatory and disciplinary institutions that deal with corruption and none of them has found the Speaker culpable, therefore; the corruption allegations are, as political and vendetta-driven, as they come," Obore said.

Britain has sanctioned 42 individuals and entities under its anti-corruption regime since it was set up 2021, including from Russia, South Sudan and Venezuela.

(Reporting by Muvija M, Hereward Holland and Elias Biryabarema, writing by Sarah Young; editing by William James)