New Vision (Kampala)

7 July 2012

Uganda: MPs Want Swiss Bank Accounts Probed

With the movers of the Anti-Corruption (amendment) Bill 2012 set to table it before Parliament next week, a host of legislators have called for a probe into the alleged sh400b in Swiss accounts owned by Ugandans.

MPs want government to establish the identity of Ugandans owning these accounts, how they amassed the money, and in case of failure to give satisfactory explanation, attachment of the money.

"Let government show political will to stamp out corrosive corruption by finding out the real owners of the reported billions in Swiss banks and demand an explanation on how the money was acquired," former ethics minister, Tim Lwanga said during a dialogue between MPs and civil society organizations at parliament.

"If the owners cannot explain the source of this money, it should be attached."

The dialogue was intended to elicit views on a Private Members' Bill to amend the Anti-Corruption Act 2009 to provide for attachment of property acquired fraudulently.

The Bill being championed by John Ssimbwa, Sempala Mbuga and Patrick Nsanja is intended to make corruption a very risky venture.

Lwanga, who pushed for amendments to the 1970 Anti-Corruption Act to provide for forfeiture of proceeds acquired through graft during his stint as ethics minister said "making people realize the folly of corruption will be key to fighting corruption."

MPs Johny Ssasaga, Atiku Bernard, Simon Mulongo, Jovah Kamateka and Okot Amos threw their weight behind Lwanga's submission, hailing it as timely.

The Executive Director of Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, Cissy Kagaba faulted government for lack of political will to implement the many robust anti-graft laws in place.

Kagaba noted that without political will, even the mooted stringent amendments to the Anti-Corruption Act 2009 will not stem the rising tide of graft.

Meanwhile, Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Anywar nearly touched raw nerves when she called upon legislators to carry out deep introspection about their conduct before they can demand accountability from others.

To a ripple of murmurs from fellow MPs, Anywar said some MPs' conduct is tantamount to "an abuse of trust."

"The fight against corruption should have no face or boundary. We should be seen to walk our talk on corruption. However, if we preach a gospel that we cannot adhere to then we are hypocrites," she said.

"How much money have we gained for no work done? You come to a committee, sign the attendance book, move out and you get paid at the end of the month. All this is corruption," Anywar was firm.

It's the mandate of Parliament through its accountability committees to demand accountability from different government ministries and agencies.

BASHIR SALVA KIIR MEETING?

Last month, the Swiss central bank revealed that Ugandan individuals and entities have 1.54m Swiss Francs (about sh400b) stashed away in the vaults of different banks in the Alpine country.

However, it didn't give details of the owners of the bank accounts.

Despite the presence of a battery of Anti-Corruption laws like the PPDA Act 2003, Leadership Code Act 2002, Inspectorate of Government Act 2002, and Public Finance and Accountability Act 2003, Uganda loses an estimated sh500b annually through corruption.

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