Cosase report: Nile River Acquisition bosses in trouble over Shs135bn loan

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The out going vice chairperson of committee on #COSASE Hon Anita Among(R) chats with Hon Ssewungu(M) and Allan Sewanyana in the lobby of Parliament

Legislators have called for the naming and punishment of   Bank of Uganda (BOU) officials responsible for the erroneous closure of the seven commercial.

The MPs said that the report presented by the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) on closure of the banks should have named the officials and caused their arrests.

The Minister of State for Health, Hon. Sarah Opendi said that the recommendations of the report do not match the findings of what transpired during the probe.

“The committee was not availed an inventory and other key documents of the sale and take-over of these banks, an indication that there were mischievous dealings between BOU and the buyers of the banks,” she said, adding that the committee recommendation that the Bank should follow the proper practices was not good enough.

The seven banks closed by BOU are: Greenland Bank, Teefe Trust Bank, International Credit Bank, Crane Bank, National Bank of Commerce, Gold Trust Bank and Cooperative Bank.

“The people who did not follow the proper procedures and laws should be held responsible; we cannot adopt such a report without naming the personalities responsible,” Opendi added.

The minister criticised the sale of a loan portfolio of Greenland and Cooperative Banks totalling to shs135 billion including shs34 billion worth of secured loans to Nile River Acquisition at a discount of 93 per cent.

“We did not see the committee mention the Directors of the Nile River Acquisition and they should also be brought to book,” she added.

Hon. Pentagon Kamusiime noted that the report should undergo further investigations.

“This report should have been precise and clear to the end to identify who did what and where,” he said, adding that, “we are going to lose a lot of money and people will go scot-free without anything being done to them”.

Hon. Simon Oyet (FDC, Nwoya County) added that while the unnamed BOU officials closed the banks under unclear circumstances, the proprietors including the common man like in the Cooperative Bank suffered losses.

“The owners suffered psychologically and financially and some died frustrated people like the former owner of Greenland Bank; we need to offer redress to them by punishing these officials,” he said.

The Chairperson of the Committee on COSASE, Hon. Abdu Katuntu said that committee had a debate on whether they should name the officials but thought otherwise and did not intentionally hide these names.

“We were cautious of the case of Fox Odoi Vs the Attorney General which goes against giving names of officials in wrong-doing especially if they have not been found guilty by the courts of law,” he said.

Katuntu also noted the lack of records of who participated in the decision-making processes and that it was not in their position to issue punishments.

“We could not name the people responsible because there were no minutes or records for these meetings; additionally, this is a probe not a judgement from the court of law that convicts these people, we just report the facts,” he said.

The Speaker said that it was wrong for some MPs to hold specials press conferences to discredit the report before debating it and getting a response from the Committee.

Parliament deferred the debate on the report to Wednesday, 26 February 2019.

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