Months ago, the former Executive Director of Supervision at the Bank of Uganda (BoU), Ms Justine Bagyenda declined to appear before parliament’s appointments committee for vetting, after the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, recommended her to serve on the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) board for the second term.
Ms Bagyenda at the time claimed she was out of the country even though it was later discovered she didn’t cross any borders. Her refusal to appear before the committee meant she missed a chance to regain the FIA board. But she won’t regret that because she is so wealthy by Ugandan standards.
However, those who had been following events as they emerged at BoU understood why Bagyenda dodged the MPs who were ready to vet her in the process that had other individuals vetted. Bagyenda knew she had no chance to be approved given that her problems related to financial mischiefs yet the job required someone clean.
First Bagyenda’s name features prominently in the controversial sale of Crane Bank Limited (CBL) that forced parliament to order the Auditor General (AG) John Muwanga to carry out a special audit of BoU on seven defunct banks. The report came out late August 2018 and it is the one that parliament’s Committee on Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) is using to quiz BoU board and top managers on the sale of defunct banks.
Secondly, leaked bank documents had disclosed Bagyenda’s bank accounts stashed with billions of shillings, raising eyebrows within the sections of the public that called for investigation into her wealth that includes real estate developments. The Inspector General of Government (IGG) is yet to release a report on Bagyenda’s alleged illicit accumulation of wealth. The FIA itself had done some investigations related to her wealth.
Members of the public are waiting for the recommendations of the IGG as regards Bagyenda’s wealth, especially that some of them, including Mps, the civil society and the youth groups have called for a severe punishment should Bagyenda be found to have amassed wealth through corrupt means.
But now that Cosase has started quizzing BoU officials in relation to the liquidation and sale of defunct banks, it is unlikely that Bagyenda will dodge like she did with the appointments committee. This is because as a former director of supervision, she played a huge role in the liquidation and transaction processes of some of the banks and therefore by all means she has no choice but to appear before the Mps who last week sent BoU Governor Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile to pick all documents related to the transactions before the probe can continue.
Remember that at the height of CBL controversy, Mutebile when asked which BoU official would take responsibility for the disequilibrium in the local banking sector and particularly the mess at CBL, he seemed to suggest that Bagyenda was responsible. He would later sack her as he made changes that saw top directors switch posts and a new person, Dr Tumubweine Twinemanzi brought in to replace Bagyenda. That shows Mutebile was not happy with Bagyenda’s work and for that she will have to appear before Cosase to answer some queries related to her work.
Ms Bagyenda and Deputy Governor BoU, Dr Louis Kasekende are said to have spearheaded the forceful takeover and sale of some of the banks. The fact that Dr Kasekende has already appeared by Cosase means Bagyenda cannot escape especially that the two officials are cited in the AG’s report on defunct banks, having interrogated them. Each of the two transact billions on their money accounts and each own properties worth billions of shillings.
Last week Cosase promised to leave no stone unturned, which means Ms Bagyenda has no chance to absent herself when called upon to answer queries. She managed to dodge the appointments committee because she could do without that job and she knew the public was against her taking up that appointment to the FIA board for the second term. For Cosase she will have to appear because no one will be there to defend her, not even Governor Mutebile, her former boss.