The Governor of Bank of Uganda Prof. Emmanuel Mutebile has laid the biggest share of blame in the Crane Bank saga on his subordinate, the Central Bank’s Director of Supervision Ms. Justine Bagyenda.
In a tell-it-all interview with a local daily, Prof. Mutebile acknowledged that despite being the overall boss, he was not ‘criminally responsible’ for the irregularities blamed on the management of the now-defunct Crane Bank, which reportedly led to the loss of over Shs400 billion of savers money. Efforts to contact Ms. Bagyenda for comment were futile by press time.
At the time of its closure the Crane Bank, the fourth largest commercial bank in the country, was owned by among other shareholders businessman Sudhir Ruparelia. Last year the bank was boarded off to the dfcu after BoU said it faced pecuniary problems.
‘I am responsible for what went wrong but I am not criminally responsible; ask the Executive Director Supervision (Justine Bagyenda),’ Prof. Mutebile said when prodded during the interview on Sunday. Asked whether he would consider taking disciplinary action against Ms. Bagyenda and her subordinates in the supervision department for the omissions that possibly include collusion, Prof. Mutebile said: ‘I have not seen any evidence though I dont deny categorically the possibility of collusion … I shall decide (on the action against Ms. Bagyenda) after the courts have ruled’.
The interview with the BoU Governor followed the leaking of a forensic audit report by PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PwC) that was initiated by the BoU. In the report the PwC says BoU cannot begin criminal proceedings against Mr. Ruparelia unless the central bank lodges a criminal complaint with police.
But the PwC advice came against the backdrop of civil litigation by the BoU against Mr. Ruparelia and one of his business arms, Meera Investments.
The case involving over Shs400 billion and filed in the Commercial Court is yet to take off, but this is not before one of the BoU lawyers being accused of ‘conflict of interest’, having earlier been retained by Crane Bank.
Businessman Ruparelia, denies any wrongdoing on his part, saying he now awaits the court decision on the Crane Bank matter.