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Cosase inquiry: BoU sinks low as top officials display laxity in executing their duties

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The Cosase probe which Bank of Uganda officials thought would be a joke has turned to be a nightmare to them following their poor display when responding to queries raised in the Auditor General John Muwanga’s special audit report on seven defunct banks which were controversially closed and their assets transferred to their competitors or private companies.

Cosase or Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises has proved wrong the BoU officials who at first thought the MPs on the committee were unknowledgeable on audit issues, the reason BoU officials kept on hiding certain reports and documents concerning the liquidation of the banks. But they have been forced by the MPs to produce those documents that have finally exposed the dirt in BoU. The dirt exposed is likely to cause sweeping changes at the institution that is Uganda’s banking industry regulator, with lay-offs expected.

The Cosase inquiry of BoU has exposed its top officials in the following that are worth looking at:

Emmanuel Tummusiime-Mutebile exposed as aloof his subordinates

First the inquiry has exposed the BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile Mutebile as a boss who doesn’t supervise his juniors or as a boss who is aloof what his subordinates do as they execute official duties of the institution. Tumusiime-Mutebile is an economist and was first appointed to that position on January 1, 2001 and was re-appointed for a second five-year term on January 1, 2006. In December 2015, he was re-appointed for a fourth five-year term, effective January 12, 2016.

Three banks were liquidated under his tenure. They include National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank Uganda (2014) and Crane Bank Limited (2017). Mutebile on Thursday said his former co-worker at BoU, who was the Executive Director in charhe of supervision, Justine Bagyenda, sold off Global Trust Bank without his knowledge. Members of the public are wondering how that happened. Tumusiime Mutebile also has admitted he has never received any reports on the sale of Teefe Trust Bank and others sold before he joined the institution.

This is surprising because one of the responsibilities of the BoU Governor include the following: He/she shall act as the supervisor of the Bank’s staff, assign duties to, receive and act on reports from the staff. The Governor shall convene and preside over the meetings of the Bank’s Board of Directors. We await what the MPs will recommend when they finally write their report.

Mutebile-Bagyenda bad relationship confirmed at Cosase probe, reasons established

On February 7, 2018, Tumusiime-Mutebile made staff changes in senior positions which saw him sack Ms Bagyenda who was left with a few months to retire. He replaced her with Dr. Tumubweine Twinemanzi, formally working with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). Mutebile did not give reasons why he sacked Bagyenda even though he said the changes were meant to advance the mission of BoU and enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness. Bagyenda would later rush to the IGG Irene Mulyagonja for help, a move that brought Tumusiime-Mutebile and the IGG in conflict. President Museveni would come in to settle the matter after both officials went public hurling insults at each other.

However, the Cosase probe has established that Tumusiime-Mutebile and Bagyenda still remain unfriendly to each other. They are sworn enemies. And the reason is that Bagyenda executed certain assignments without informing or reporting to the Governor. The reason he said he has never received certain reports from Bagyenda concerning the sale of banks. He admitted on Thursday that Bagyenda sold off assets of Global Trust Bank without his knowledge. He was supported by officials who handle BoU board affairs, leaving Bagyenda arguing that what she did was in the interest of BoU and not her as individual. Tumusiime-Mutebile said he never authorized Bagyenda to give confidential information of Global Trust Bank to Dfcu Bank. Bagyenda signed a draft agreement with Dfcu Bank MD Juma Kisaame to transfer Global Trust Bank assets to Dfcu Bank. Tumusiime-Mutebile didn’t know about this. The constitution doesn’t not allow the Governor and his deputy to transfer their powers to other officers.

Bagyenda is also said to have kept some information on Crane Bank Limited (CBL) away from her boss. Notwithstanding, there is pending case in court between BoU and CBL. Bagyenda is under investigation by the IGG for allegedly amassing wealth illegally. She owns properties worth billions of shillings. Leaked documents months ago showed billions of shillings stashed on her bank accounts.

Deputy Governor Dr. Louis Kasekende looks a frightened man

Backwards, When Cosase asked Auditor General Muwanga to investigate BoU over the sale of banks and report to parliament, Dr. Louis Kasekende, an economist, opposed it and tried as much as he could to fail the investigation, though finally he was defeated and Mr. Muwanga did his work which led to the current report that the MPs are using to quiz BoU officials. Kasekende had ran to several offices including to that of the Solicitor General Francis Atoke who misled him that BoU should not be cooperative with the Auditor General. Kasekende at the time reasoned that the investigation by parliament would abuse the subjudice rule since cases related to the matter were pending in court. Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga insisted that the investigation had nothing to do with court cases and that BoU being a public institution, had to be checked by parliament.

Now it has come out that Kasekende wanted to block the Auditor General’s investigations because he knew all was not well with BoU records of the sale of banks. He knew many reports were missing, many reports were false and officials at BoU were not serious with their work. All these facts have been proved by Cosase probe. It is not therefore surprising that the Committee has had to send back BoU officials to look for required bank documents. Worse still some official documents bear no signatures. This is the corruption that Kasekende was fighting to hide.

Like Bagyenda, Kasekende is being investigated by the IGG over his wealth which include multi-billion shillings properties spread in Kampala and Wakiso districts. He did declare some of them to IGG as required by the Leadership Code Act 2002. Kasekende, his wife Edith and children hold huge sums of money on their accounts, according to recent leaked documents.

Margaret Kaggwa Kasule, BoU’s legal Counsel exposed as wanting in legal matters

Last week BoU legal counsel Margaret Kaggwa Kasule was put on oath following her poor display in response to queries raised by the MPs. At some point she thought she was sharper than the MPs, some of them more experienced in legal matters and sharp. Committee Chairman Abdu Katuntu and Medard Ssegoona, a member are too sharp for Ms Kasule. The committee also has the likes of MP Odonga Otto and others who have knowledge of business. Ms Kasule has failed to relate the laws to the operations of BoU in selling off assets of banks.

Kasule surprised the world when she presented a press release an instrument that BoU used to close Teefe Trust Bank in 1993, yet former Minister of Finance the late Joash Mayanja Nkangi is the one who closed the bank illegally. Her capability is far below what BoU requires. Could that be the reason why BoU relies depends so much on external lawyers? But in doing so BoU is extravagantly spending taxpayers’ money. A legal expert who fails to advise her colleagues that unsigned documents make no sense legally is not worth being at BoU.

Ssekabira, the man at the centre of controversy

Ben Ssekabira, Director, Financial Markets Development Coordination, is the longest serving staff at the Bank of Uganda having joined the institution as a banking officer over 20 years ago. He has risen through the ranks and participated in liquidating banks such as Greenland Bank, Cooperative Bank, Global Trust Bank among others. He has produced unsigned reports and documents to Cosase committee. No wonder he was put on oath, so that should he tell lies, he faces jail like his junior colleagues Beatrice Kyambadde and Charles Moro whose role was to man security of BoU.

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