The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga is reportedly furious after reports emerged that the Bank of Uganda (BoU) Deputy Governor Dr Louis Kasekende, Chairman of DFCU Bank Jimmy Mugerwa who also doubles as Managing Director of Tullow Oil and city lawyer Apollo Makubuya from MMAKS Advocates and Chairman Equity Bank, two days ago met at Serena Hotel Kigo in a bid to frustrate her impending decision to block fresh probe of BoU by MPs over irregular closure of seven commercial banks including; Crane Bank Limited (CBL), Global Trust Bank (GTB), Cooperative Bank and Greenland Bank among others .
Sources say Kadaga intends to write to heads of institutions where the above officials work to warn them against interfering with the work of parliament.
Two petitioners recently urged Kadaga to block a fresh probe of BoU by parliament’s Committee on Commissions, State Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) on grounds that the first probe extensively dealt with BoU and that what is remaining is to implement the recommendations of the report.
Sources say the officials met after realising that Kadaga would go by the call by petitioners not to allow a second BoU probe in which BoU officials wanted to take advantage of to clear their names are already tarnished as a result of the first probe that started in late October 2018 and ended in February this year, pinning BoU officials on negligence, corruption and irregular closure of banks.
BoU’s Kasekende wants a fresh audit of Shs478 billion supposedly injected in CBL but the money was not properly accounted for by BoU officials during the first probe COSASE. The Auditor General John Muwanga who did the first audit of the money has given a negative response to Kasekende, saying he finished his job and only parliament can order him to do a second audit.
Days ago Chairperson of COSASE Mubarak Munyagwa appointed a select subcommittee headed by Makindye East Member of Parliament (MP), Ibrahim Kasozi to probe BoU again over Shs478 billion injected in CBL as liquidity support between October 20 2016 and January 25, 2017. BoU closed CBL due to undercapitalisation. Watchers say BoU officials could have tricked Munyagwa to call for the second audit which is not necessary.
During the first COSASE probe of BoU, it was established that Shs478 billion was not properly utilized for the purpose as the Auditor General Muwanga established that Shs320 billion of that money could not be accounted for as BoU failed to present all the documents required, moreover it was worsened by the fact the BoU acted as a lender and borrower in the transaction.
Recently Kasekende and other BoU officials carried the documents to parliament but were sent away for not coming along with the accountant of the bank and all required documents to support the use of Shs478 billion that the bank wants shareholders of CBL to repay yet they were not involved in the transaction. Sources within the bank also say CBL only needed Shs150 billion to keep afloat even though BoU officials sold the bank to its rival DFCU Bank at Sh200 billion, paid in installments.
The petitioners, Michael Businge a resident of Nsambya, Kampala and Sam Kakuru a student of Uganda Christian University contest that it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money on a ‘syndicated move’ to clear BoU officials of wrongdoing through a second COSASE probe.
The Speaker who supervises all the committees of parliament is expected to look at the merits in the petitions and the rules that guide Parliament to take a decision.
The petitioners argue that the House Rules of Procedures do not give Cosase powers to re-examine its reports and accused MPs of creating a backlog.
“These exercises cost taxpayer’s money and must be performed lawfully. [We cannot keep repeating the same things uncles there is something MPs are not telling Ugandans… This is to request you to prevail on the said Committee not to spend state resources (money and time) on a re-examination which is outside its mandate” Businge says in his petition to Kadaga.
On the other hand, Mr Kakuru, another petitioner, argues that the direction being taken by the Committee amounts to “contempt of parliament” hence asking the Speaker to relieve Mr Munyagwa of his duties as Committee Chairperson.
He argues that the select sub-committee headed by MP Kasozi with instructions to hear the BoU officials in closed meetings which is questionable.
“The Sub-Committee headed by Hon Ibrahim Kasozi is ultra vires on grounds that it conducts its proceedings behind closed doors. The issues of banking sector (Central Bank) are of public/tax payer concern,” he says.
The petitioners want parliament instead to act on the recommendations listed by the first probe headed by MP Abdu Katuntu as regards the irregular closure of banks and misuse of taxpayers’ money in the process.