The number of Bank of Uganda officials being investigated by the State House Anti- Corruption unit has increased from five to eight.
This followed the a mega operation that was carried out on Wednesday by Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema and head of Criminal Investigation Department, Assistant Inspector of Police Grace Akullo to investigate deeper illegal items entered the country without clearance.
According to information coming in indicates that Bank of Uganda top officials are under investigation by the State House Anti-corruption unit for alleged collusion in a procurement and supply chain process anomaly.
Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo says in April this year, about 15 Bank of Uganda officials travelled to Paris, France to procure ‘printable items’ for the government. Government then on April 27, chartered a plane from Paris to Entebbe, but among Bank of Uganda’s official 20 pallets, according to Opondo, there were other extra 5 pallets of 13 private individuals and organisations including the United Nations (UN) irregularly loaded unto the cargo plane. No other items were meant to be on the plane except Bank of Uganda’s.
Ofwono says it is surprising that organisations such as the UN would collude with government institutions and individuals to bring in items into the country disguised as government items. Among the smuggled items, Ofwono says included blood reagents and solar systems.
Ofwono says the heads of currency centre Mbale and Kabale were responsible for verifying the pallets but they only reported about the extra pallets to the Bank of Uganda superiors 4 days later on May 2. On May 3, Bank of Uganda governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile wrote to the State House Anti-corruption unit to investigate the involved officials.
“During the verification process, BOU staff reported an anomaly in the inventory of the expected consignment,” Mutebile stated.
According to head of State House Anti-corruption unit, Lt Col Edith Nakalema, also under investigation are Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), airport security personnel and customs officials who are being questioned about the matter.
“The investigation is being carried out following the invitation by the governor Bank of Uganda,” Nakalema said.
Earlier, there were reports that the issue involves the printing of money (over Shs 90bn), which was coming into the country. Uganda prints its money from Germany. The unverified reports indicated that some of the officials at the Central Bank wanted to fleece part of the money that was coming into the country. We could neither verify this claim.
In the past two years, the central bank has been cast into the public storm with several officials there accused of fraud. An investigation by a parliamentary committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) indicated there were irregularities in the closure of defunct banks – with indications that some officials at the bank could have benefited financially.
Another area of interest for the investigator is said to be the Shs478 billion that BoU claims to have used during the receivership of Crane Bank.
A probe by parliament’s Committee on Commissions State Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) established that BoU officials over the years closed seven commercial banks without following guidelines.
They are believed to have connived to dupe some of the banks of their money. For instance some banks like cooperative bank, Greenland Bank and International Credit Bank had their assets sold at over 90 per cent discount even though some had valid documentation like land titles.
As the investigation continued, it was revealed that extra cash had been printed and was inserted on to the plane after the billing of lading had been cleared by the agents and the plane authority.
However, according to interrogators, the airplane authority came out first and apologized acknowledging that they had been duped by the two officials to load extra cash and items despite the clearance from the German authorities.
It is at this time that Director Malinga who had been on leave got involved because his name had been dragged in, accordingly, Mr. Malinga is said to have informed the Governor Emmanuel Mutebile about the incident and thereafter, the two agreed to brief the President and State House Anti-Corruption Unit.
Upon briefing the president, it is said he was furious about the incident and immediately directed that Lt. Col. Edith Nakalema and head of Criminal Investigation Department, Assistant Inspector of Police Grace Akullo investigate deeper to find out where the said balance of the Shs90 billion is and also established the motive by the culprits.