Uganda: Bou Currency Saga – Three Officials Rearrested

Kampala — Police Wednesday re-arrested three Bank of Uganda (BoU) officials, who had reported to renew their bond, and senior detectives were by last night reported to be questioning a top official in the bank’s Currency Department.

A highly-placed source familiar with the investigations into the alleged currency scam told this newspaper that detectives had preferred charges of ” abuse of office” and ” negligence of duty” against the suspects.

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions will have to sanction the charges, or advise otherwise, before the officials can be arraigned and formally charged in court.

This newspaper is withholding particulars of the suspects until they are charged in court.

The ongoing investigations, which have expanded to cover other government agencies and owner/operator of a plane that the central bank chartered to fly in a consignment of newly-printed currency notes, was triggered by revelations that cargo belonging to private individuals and institutions were on the aircraft.

KUEHNE +NAGEL airfreight aircraft, according to investigators, picked the consignments from Liege airport in Belgium, and there is varying information that the currency notes were likely printed in France or United Kingdom.

The plane landed at Entebbe International Airport on April 27.

On June 2, BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile wrote to Lt Col Edith Nakalema-led State House Anti-Corruption Unit, seeking investigations into unspecified anomalies in delivery of the consignment.

Officials last week named some of the items shipped illegally on the chartered flight and the importers, but mystery on the inquiry deepened this week when senior communicators in key government positions spoke at cross purposes on the specific matter being investigated.

Whereas police spokesperson Fred Enanga told journalists that they had searched homes of some of the suspects and recovered cash, which could be in excess of amounts BoU authorised to print, Mr Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of Uganda Media Centre, dismissed those claims.

He instead, and in line with what Lt Col Nakalema has echoed over the last few days, that the issue being investigated was exclusively the circumstances under which private cargo was transported on the chartered plane.

Governor Mutebile, the key complainant in the case, threw a spanner in the works when he told the media on Tuesday that he did not know what detectives were investigating.

Sources familiar with the investigations told this newspaper yesterday that junior BoU officials assigned to pick the currency at Entebbe Airport were expecting the notes to be loaded in 20 pallets, although they received only 15 pallets.

Officials, speaking on condition of anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter, however, said cash received on April 27 tallied with amount BoU ordered to be printed.

We could not independently verify these contrasting accounts, and there is, as of yet, no explanation on the probable anomaly.

It also remained unclear why the currency printed in one country was hauled by road across international borders to be flown to Uganda from Belgium.

“The allegation against the suspects is that there was more money on flight and that is why State House (Anti-Corruption Unit) took interest in the matter,” a source said yesterday.

How it started

Detectives are reportedly examining previous BoU currency printing procurements to establish any anomalies, one source close to the probe said, claiming that police decision last Friday to release the suspects on bond was informed by the consideration to stretch the inquiries to previous years.

Another source said two of BoU officials re-arrested yesterday had flown to France, where the currency was reportedly printed, and superintended its delivery to Uganda.

When contacted yesterday, Mr Opondo and Mr Enanga declined to discuss the now divisive matter .

“I do not intend to honour the Daily Monitor with any further comments. You can continue with your narratives. What I (we) said is sufficient for those genuine and with good ears,” Mr Opondo said, noting that he would communicate any new developments.

Mr Enanga said: “Let us leave the investigators to do their work…”

The airline yesterday said in an email: “Please, understand that Kuehne+Nagel cannot divulge information on an investigation targeting a third party unrelated to our group.”

The suspects

Arrested. At least eight government officials were arrested last week by the State House Anti-corruption Unit, which has been joined by police’s criminal investigations department (CID) for a joint investigation against BoU officials implicated in the suspected currency scam. After interrogation, the suspects were released on police bond.

The arrested included BoU officials in charge of currency, procurement and security and officials from the Customs Department, airport police officers and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) staff.

The charges. Sources privy to the investigations yesterday said charges of abuse of office and neglect of duty were preferred against the six BoU officials.

The suspects, according to the source appeared at CID headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala, to answer their bond hardly a week after they were released on bond pending investigations.

Rearrest. According to the source who declined to be named, upon reporting to answer the bond, three of the six officials were re-arrested and taken to unknown destination.


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Publish date : 2019-06-20 11:19:46

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