Parliament appointments committee is contemplating the approval of the embattled former Bank of Uganda Executive Director in charge of Supervision, Justine Bagyenda as board member of the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) for the second term, after her reappointment by the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija in a May 7, 2018 letter he wrote to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
This was a miscalculated move that the minister should be regretting, a legislator opposed to her reappointments said, adding that Kasaija should have consulted anti-corruption agencies before taking that decision.
Kasaija recommended Ms Bagyenda even as the Inspector General of Government (IGG) Irene Mulyagonja is yet to release a report into her alleged illicit wealth. Last month the IGG promised to complete investigations and release the report as soon as possible.
“This is to inform you that the Inspectorate is conducting investigations on allegations of the wealth of Justine Bagyenda, and once complete, the report will be shared with the relevant authorities only,” said the IGG in a press statement issued late June, following complaints that she was doing nothing about the matter.
Despite the IGG’s statement, the Kasaija has turned around to say that Bagyenda’s re-appointment was in ‘error’ as it came much earlier before the corruption scandals emerged. He said he wouldn’t have re-appointed her had he been informed of Bagyenda’s corruption-related case.
A Lwemiyaga county MP, Theodore Ssekikubo told Eagle Online that it was unethical for a minister to recommend an individual or for parliament to approve someone for any position in the country when they are under an investigation by another government agency. The legislator said that would amount to sabotage especially at the time when efforts to fight corruption in government were being questioned.
Mr. Kasaija when asked last week, told journalists in Kampala that he was working against a deadline to fully constitute the new board of the FIA. He added that since Ms Bagyenda was under investigations, the appointment would be halted until she is cleared by the two the IGG and FIA.
Last week, legislators also expressed concerns regarding Ms Bagyenda’s re-appointment to the same authority (FIA) that was investigating her alleged illicit wealth. It was general knowledge that Ms Bagyenda was under investigation before her reappointment by Kasaija by the IGG and FIA yet the minister claimed he was unware of the investigation.
A source talked to, told this Website that Kasaija knew about Bagyenda’s case only that he was trying to undermine the process. “Being a daughter of the land, Kasaija was trying to redeem one of his own,” the source said. Bagyenda comes from Western Uganda just like the minister.
The source also wondered why Bagyenda would not decline the reappointment well knowing that she was under investigation. “If I were her, I would have waited to be cleared before accepting to be reappointed,” he said.
“When I re-appointed her, the issues of money laundering and others were not yet in the press. There is no way I could have re-appointed her with question marks surrounding her integrity,” minister Kasaija said.
However, another source said Kasaija was not honest given that the media was awash with stories of Ms Bagyenda’s alleged accumulation of wealth through corrupt means. Based on media reports, he should have cancelled Bagyenda’s reappointment but also he should have sought for advice on the matter. However he did not do any of these,” the source said.
Bagyenda was early this year fired by BOU Governor Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile before she could officially retire in June.
Activists and some members of parliament have called for an investigation into the source of Bagyenda’s wealth which they said was not commensurate with her known sources of income.
For instance, recent leaked bank documents showed one of her fixed deposits on her account at Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) was US $214,149 on December 29, 2017 at an interest rate of three per cent. The maturity date is set for Dec. 29, 2018, leading to a net interest of US $5,536 after a tax deduction of U S$977.
Earlier on September 7, 2017, Bagyenda made a fixed deposit of Shs179 million and expects to earn a net interest of Shs7.5 million on maturity in March 2018.
She had on December 29, 2016, made another fixed deposit of US $1776, 717 which matured in December 2017.
On December 28, 2014, the transactions which leaked from private auditors indicate, Bagyenda did not make any fixed deposit – but she had a balance of US $238, 563 on her Diamond Trust Bank account.
For every deposit, Bagyenda received a certificate of deposit showing the interest the principal amount would attract, taxes incurred and net amount payable to her on maturity.
In March 2014, Bagyenda had made a fixed deposit of about Shs900 million which earned her a net interest of about Shs9.2 million
In November 2014, Bagyenda had another fixed deposit of Shs568 million which saw her realise a net interest of Shs5.7 million.
In January 2015, Bagyenda made another deposit of Shs 480,000,000 million setting a maturity date of one month. She earned Shs4.8 million in interest.
Bagyenda’s source of these staggering amounts of money remains unclear as the public awaits to see what the FIA and IGG investigations will reveal.