3 more BoU officials arrested over currency scandal

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Bank of Uganda

A report from Bank of Uganda says three more officials have been arrested in the wide investigation over the currency saga that has shaken the country.

They are; Caroline Nankabirwa of procurement, Simon Peter Zaribugire of currency department and Milton Opio, director of security.

They face charges of abuse of office and neglect of duty.

Opio Milton was once interdicted during the Office of the Prime Minister [OPM] scandal because he was the director banking and allegedly connived with Godfrey Kazinda.

Opio Milton, the former deputy director for banking was grilled for confirming 121 transactions in which 80 percent of the 13.4 billion shillings was lost.

After the OPM saga, Opio was picked to head security at parliament.

Contradictory statements

The investigations into the alleged printing of excess currency by BoU officials have triggered more mystery than clarity after government agencies contradicted on what is being investigated.

On Monday, police spokesperson Fred Enanga said they had searched homes of six senior BoU officials and the searches yielded documents pointing to the printing of extra currency notes by the implicated Central Bank staff.

“With time, we shall get how much was involved, how much (money) has been recovered, what was genuine (currency), [and] what was unofficial, but genuine money,” Enanga said on Monday.

He added: “We want to know who requested for the printing of the currency notes and how much. The director of banking has to initiate the process, then send the request to the board of BoU that authorises and signs before the procurement officer orders for the printing of the money.”

Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of Uganda Media Centre, dismissed the police statements about the printing of extra currency notes as absolute lies.

“We have seen an absurd statement being attributed to police spokesperson (Fred) Enanga on the ongoing BoU saga. We do not know where he got this information from that they are investigating printing of extra cash. I want to disregard his statement.”

He added: “The ongoing investigation has got nothing to do with printed extra money that was purportedly dumped in our economy.”

Bank Governor Tumusiime-Mutebile said he did not know what exactly the police were investigating because he did not know what was contained in the five extra bags found in the same chartered plane that delivered the 20 bags of currency notes.

“I do not have the facts. I am still waiting for the investigations going on to be completed; I am waiting for the investigation report to come out. I do not know what they are investigating.”

Regional centres

Uganda Radio Network [URN] reported that investigations have been extended to currency centres in Mbale, Kabale and Fort Portal.

A Senior detective at the Criminal Investigations Department told URN that after interrogating top BoU officials, the investigating team led by the Criminal Investigations Director Grace Akullo found leads to the three currency Centres.

The detective explained that heads of BoU currency centres in the three regions are being interrogated on whether they had prior knowledge on the five extra pallets that were transported on the chartered plane, which had on board, newly printed Uganda Shilling notes.

CID team is also probing how and why the directors were transferred to regional currency centres from the head office in Kampala, prior to the arrival of the BoU consignment.

Central Bank sent its officials to pick printed cash overseas and alerted Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) about a consignment that required fast clearance.

The chartered plane landed at Entebbe International Airport on April 27 and was cleared by URA customs department in the presence of BoU officials, BoU security, aviation security, police and other security agencies.

However, it was reported that instead of the expected 20 pallets, the consignment had 25 pallets.

The head of Mbale currency centre who was swiftly called to witness the offloading of BoU consignment became suspicious of the extra pallets and briefed Mutebile who wrote to the Head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, Lt Col Edith Nakalema to conduct a probe into an extra cargo on the BoU plane.

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