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Camps emerge at Bank of Uganda as probe into currency consignment starts to bite

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Two camps opposed to each other have emerged at the central bank-the Bank of Uganda (BoU) as the investigation into the recent currency consignment scandal begin to fish out culprits responsible for the mess that has further tarnished the image of the institution that only months came out of COSASE probe bruised for the irregular closure of seven commercial banks.

According to inside sources, BoU Governor Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, is leading one camp that invited anti-corruption agencies to investigate the Shs90 billion lost to filthy BoU officials while his deputy, Dr Louis Kasekende, is opposed to the probe led by State House’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), headed by Lt Col. Edith Nakalema and assisted by CID of the Uganda Police.

The inside sources say Mutebile is being supported Dr. Charles Malinga, BoU Director Operations who discovered the mess in the consignment while Kasekende is supported by a group of a few who believe that the investigations will touch them, especially that it is Kasekende who approved the consignment at the time when Mutebile was sick and out of office.

Two days ago Mutebile in a statement confirmed that Lt Col. Nakalema, assisted by others had begun investigations against BoU officials, an announcement that those in Kasekende’s camp felt was uncalled for, as they wanted the exercise to be kept away from the public domain, more especially that BoU still awaits what measures will be taken against those that caused the mess in the closure of seven commercial banks, parliament having handed over the COSASE report to the executive for action.

“Dr. Kasekende is scared of the investigations because he is the one that signed for that consignment. He has a few colleagues who think that the governor made a mistake by calling for the investigations on the matter,” a source told this website, adding that given the current scandal government and president Yoweri Museveni in particular is likely to use the COSASE report and intelligence information on the current scandal to carry out drastic changes at the central bank that seems to be producing scandal after scandal, despite being the custodian of the local macro-economy and the regulator of the local banking industry.

The source further said Nakalema and her team will on Tuesday or Wednesday interrogate Kasekende in relation to the controversial money, some of it is believed to be circulating in the economy.

On Friday evening, the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija and his permanent Secretary Keith Muhakanizi were interviewed by the Head of Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), Lt Col. Edith Nakalema, over the Shs90 billion scandal.

Sources say the two officials were quizzed because they supervise BoU and as such Nakalema’s team wanted to know whether they were aware of the money in question.

Another source has told this website that some of the Shs90 billion illegally printed and loaded on the consignment of the other notes that were supposed to be delivered to BoU, is being kept by two officials of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), The two officials are said to be male and female.

On Friday in this website broke the news of Nakalema and her team storming BoU on a mission to interface with the culprits and other officers there in regard to the billions of shillings notes that were illegally printed by the officials.

URA rebuffs BoU

The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Commissioner Customs, Dickson Kateshumbwa, has said even though some of their officials are under probe due to the same scandal, they did nothing wrong as far as the clearing process of the consignment is concerned.However, this contradicts the earlier statement which was given to the media by the same URA which stated that they had cleared the consignment. Could their change be targeting the arrested officers who are interrogation by both Col. Nakalema and police?

“URA has provided the details of the information required by the investigators and we are available to offer any clarification if required,” Kateshumbwa said.

“In April this year, URA Entebbe Customs was informed by BoU of an impending import of currency and requested to facilitate quick clearance. A private chartered plane arrived and as normal practice for sensitive cargo customs facilitated clearance of the currency at the tarmac in presence of BoU Officials, BoU security, aviation security, police and other security agencies. The consignment was offloaded, inspected and loaded on BoU vehicles and taken to Kampala under heavy security escort,” he said in the statement.

Kateshumbwa said the same plane contained other cargo which belonged to various individuals / companies / organizations. “As per normal customs clearance procedure, this cargo was offloaded into the licensed bonds at the airport and subsequently the owners made customs declarations, paid applicable taxes and Customs physically verified each consignment to ascertain accuracy and consistency with the declaration and released the goods to the owners,” he said.

He said each of the consignments had its individual airway bill. Customs was not party to the airline charter arrangements between BoU, the airline and the other owners of the goods.

However, this line of argument has been questioned why a chartered plane hired by BoU to carry out a specific mission ended up other consignment of other private individuals and organisations? How did these individuals and entities get to know that there was a hired plane hired from BoU heading to Uganda? where is the billing of lending that cleared the cargo and why are clearance forms cleared by Civil Aviation Authority and URA officials at Entebbe?

Another intrigue area of interest is how was money received and why did civilians access the runaway through the cargo section even before BoU bullion vans could get to the runaway? What was offloaded from the plane by people that used the cargo sections? These questions that remain unanswered by both URA and CAA.

“It is not the responsibility of customs to concern itself in logistical arrangements of importers or exporters. Our duty is to ensure that imported cargo through the airport is received and tallied with the cargo manifest, verified and is cleared in line with the Customs Laws as established under the East African Customs Management Act (EACCMA),” he said.

“In this particular consignment like all others, our customs staff followed the procedures to the dot and we can account for the cargo cleared fully,” he said.

Media spinn

Why are some individuals at BoU and now URA hiring media spin doctors to change the script before the conclusion of the investigation? Who is involved in the saga that some top BoU officials are trying to protect given that the whistleblower is the Governor?

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