Gov’t on Brink of Losing Shs165bn Pension Case

The Solicitor General has questioned the motive of the second report compiled by police in the investigation of financial loss of a staggering Shs165bn earmarked for the country’s pensioners, saying, it lacks the necessary substance needed to cause the conviction of suspected fraudsters at Cairo International Bank and other government officials.

On October 31, CIID boss AIGP Grace Akullo, forwarded to the DPP a report titled “Alleged causing financial loss to the tune of shs165bn, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud by the officials of Ministry of Public Service, Peter Ssajjabi and Cairo International Bank Vide CIID headquarters E/003/2013.”

The investigation followed a huge public outcry after it emerged that Public Service Ministry staff had connived with Cairo International Bank officials to steal shs165bn for aged and helpless pensioners.

In her letter, Akullo said “as you are aware, since 2012 CIID has been investigating the alleged financial mismanagement of pension funds. Questioned documents were forwarded to handwriting expert for forensic analysis and a report is still pending and shall be forwarded in due course. This is to forward a copy of the report for your information and further management of the case.”

The IGP, Gen Kale Kayihura and Second Deputy Prime Minister, Henry Kajura were each handed a copy of the report.

When this report reached the office of Solicitor General, officials were shocked to realise that crucial evidence which had been tendered in an earlier report on the same case were missing.

“Upon reading the said report we realise that it departs in material respects from the earlier report prepared by police,” wrote J Atwine on behalf of the Solicitor General to Barbara Kawuma Bugembe, a senior State Attorney, Anti Corruption Court Section.

Atwine’s remarks underscored the discomfort in the Solicitor General’s office, with high level reports showing something wrong could have happened during the investigations to let some suspected fraudsters off the hook.

Impeccable sources said the latest developments in the case have attracted the attention of top officials in the president’s office.

“The case is now hanging in balance because the new report departs in material respects from the earlier report which was used to prosecute the case. It is highly suspected someone was compromised by the bank,” a top source who is not authorised to speak to the media told this investigative website.

Police speak out

Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, who Thursday got in touch with Akullo, defended the second report, describing it as “inclusive” and “more detailed”.

He denied allegations that it would lead to the exoneration of the suspects in the multi-billion fraud that shocked and angered the nation.

“At the end of the investigation, all details were provided to the DPP. If there are any problems, they can be resolved. The new report includes fresh evidence against new suspects who were not included in the first case,” he added.

Police in 2012 arrested Cairo International Bank’s bosses and Public Service Ministry officials for being part of a scheme where ghost pensioners were created and billions of shillings deposited on their accounts before being withdrawn by fraudsters.

The suspects included general manager operations, Muhammad Ahmad Tarek; his assistant, Ishaka Ssentongo and compliance officer, Rahmah Mugeere.

Others were Grace Beinomugisha (head of customer care); Ismail Kizito and Abbey Kaddu, the authorizing officer.

How it started

It is understood that a one Marion, an official at the Anti-corruption Court and representative of DPP, swore an affidavit in support of the DPP’s action to charge Cairo International Bank in the criminal count.

They also summoned a detective identified as Komurubuga, who oversaw this investigation, to swear an affidavit in support of the investigation report which the DPP had relied on to prosecute the suspects.

The affidavits of Marion and Komurubuga were meant to provide more support to the defence of Attorney General to counter the suit by Cairo Bank which is challenging the prosecution of financial institution’s senior managers.

Cairo Bank lawyers, having seen the affidavits, made a response in court opposing the affidavits especially the one made by Komurubuga.

The bank’s lawyer MacDosman W. Kabega argued that Akullo had promised to give the bank lawyers a fresh report which would be used in court not the old one. Lawyers prayed to court to ignore Komurubuga’s report since a new report would be issued by a senior officer to water down the case.

But prosecution went ahead with the probe in which CIID has been sharing their findings with the DPP.

Ghost pensioner suspects were then eventually charged in court. Evidence showed that Cairo Bank was heavily involved in fraud before being added to the charge sheet which was amended by the DPP.

Sue Lange, a magistrate at the Anti-corruption court issued criminal summons to the bank officials.

Kabega represented the bank but refused to take plea until he widely consulted.

Within in two weeks, Kabega manoeuvred and went to the High Court presided over by Justice Kabiito before suing the Attorney General is his representative capacity, arguing the DPP had maliciously and irregularly charged Cairo International Bank officials.

He secured a court order and went to the magistrate’s anti-corruption court where he requested the stay of prosecution of the case until proceedings in the High Court were disposed off. That was around July 2014.

Meeting

The Attorney General, Peter Nyombi was then forced to file a defence. He sought audience with the DPP.

Nyombi opposed Kabega’s submission, saying the lawyers of the bank had no moral authority since they don’t represent CIID and no write up had been made to confirm this.

Cairo bank lawyers then convinced Justice Kabiito that a fresh report was to be issued and prayed for some ample time for the report to come.

It is suspected this delay from July to October 2014 was then used to “doctor and produce a new report by CIID”, according to a highly placed source.

On October 31, the new report was signed by Akullo and on the same day, Tom Magezi, a lawyer from Kabega’s law firm which represents the bank swore an affidavit claiming that he had come across a report by the Director CIID which he said “heavily impacted” on his application suing government.

“I deemed it vital and necessary as my duty to bring it to the court’s attention and hereby do so,” reads Magezi’s affidavit in part.

Attorney General opposed this submission, saying the lawyer was not the right authority to submit the report since he was not the CIID official and neither was he a representative.

Troubled Detective

State Attorney Atwiine appearing for the Attorney General asked Komurubuga to make a rebuttal in form of an affidavit to the new report.

Fearing to be misunderstood by Akullo, the detective was reluctant to write the rebuttal. Interestingly, he asked Atwine to seek a legal opinion from IGP’s office.

Police publicist Fred Enanga said DPP’s office can “request police to clarify or get additional information on new areas and developments.”

He added: “Police did its job of showing findings and made recommendations on who should be charged,” he added.

However, officials say should the case be mismanaged, Uganda will lose a staggering shs165bn to a clique of fraudsters even when authorities have plenty of evidence pinning the suspects. Uganda has lost cases worth billions of shillings due to mismanagement at the investigation level and corruption.

Following a recent salary increment, each primary teacher will earn Shs 279,145.

The pension funds stolen from Public Service Ministry with the alleged support of Cairo International Bank can pay all primary teachers in government schools for two months.

The same amount can construct 165 kilometres of tarmac road.

Source: Chimpreports.com