BoU Probe: lawyers pocketed Shs4.2bn without documentation

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Timothy Masembe

By Kagenyi Lukka

Parliament’s Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) led by chairman Abdul Katuntu has established that Timothy Masembe and his MMAKS Advocates pocketed tax payers’ money amounting to Shs4.2bn in the sale of Crane Bank without any documentation or receipts.

Masembe’s MMAKS Advocates were paid Shs914, 272,722 for legal advice during CBL intervention, resolution and advice on the sale of CBL assets and assumption of liabilities.

The firm would further be paid extra Shs3 billion as 5% commission monies recovered from CBL shareholders.

While meeting COSASE, MPs asked for records or minutes from the meetings between MMAKS Advocates and Bank of Uganda which culminated to disbursement of such monies.

However, Masembe could not avail any minutes or documents regarding the payments saying that “lawyers don’t take minutes of meetings and in any case, the minutes should have been recorded by the Bank of Uganda.”

“How can Shs4.2bn of tax payers’ money be given for legal advice without any minutes? This is ridiculous,” MP Odonga Otto said.

COSASE Chair Abdu Katuntu also found it strange for a public institution to advance massive payments to a private law firm without any minutes for reference.

“We need minutes of such meetings with the Central Bank that show the kind of legal opinion that you gave to the Central Bank. As a public institution, how does one say this was a proper payment?” Katuntu said.

Neither Bank of Uganda nor Masembe have failed to produce documents showing their terms of reference in offering legal opinion in the sale of Crane Bank.

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