27 November 2012

Uganda: Kyambogo Officials Face Shs5 Billion Queries

An internal financial audit's findings at the troubled Kyambogo University have implicated several middle- and lower-rank university officials in irregularities that could have cost the university Shs4.7 billion

Coming only weeks after the ouster of Vice Chancellor Isaiah Ndiege for mismanagement, the findings add to worries that Kyambogo's problems may be much bigger than Prof Ndiege, who has challenged his dismissal in court. According to the 40-page report, written by Chief Internal Auditor Henry Duku, and submitted to acting Vice Chancellor John Opuda-Asibo, many officials failed to account for money given to them for official work.

Interestingly, the October 1, 2012 report also implicates Prof Asibo, to whom it was submitted, for failing to account for Shs 788,000. The money was given to him on December 2, 2011, as facilitation to attend events for the international day for Persons with Disabilities.

Other officials who failed to account for money include Human Resource Director Godfrey Tumwesigye, Dean of Students Winfred Buga and Senior Technician (Estates and Works) Ambrose Aryeija.

There is no indication that the money was not spent. The report only points out the officers did not provide accountability for any expenditure. Both Asibo and Tumwesigye again declined to explain this anomaly to the taxpayers of this country.

"How do you and The Observer come in?" Tumwesigye said when asked about the expenditure. "Write what you want; I don't account to journalists."

Among other things, the report cites remittances to URA that are not reflected in bank statements, as well as variations in amounts reflected in receipt books and bank statements. The accounting department lacked acknowledgement receipts for money paid to different university suppliers, and there was transfer of money to the university's central accounts, which were, however, not reflected in bank statements.

In one case, Shs 1.5bn moved from the faculty of Arts to the central account in one month - Shs 1bn on February 2, 2012 and Shs 500m on February 22. In all, Shs 3.3bn moved between accounts without supporting documents. In compiling the report, the auditor also reviewed the fees collection processes, procurement systems and financial monitoring and reporting processes at the university.

There are numerous cases where two receipts were issued to students for a single payment and cheques posted to cashbooks without supporting vouchers. For instance, the university received Shs 68m as fees but there was no acknowledgment.

Belated action

The audit report calls for quick accountability of cash. The Observer has seen correspondences indicating that Asibo and Bursar Ham Mungyereza have started acting on the recommendations of the report. However, some officials at the university have questioned the timing of their action, with the police and IGG likely to start investigations.

The audit report says the university administration has been slow in implementing earlier recommendations.

"The status report indicates that out of thirty-one observations, only seven have been implemented. The systems are still underdeveloped as reflected by lack of the systems procedural manuals," the report reads in part.

The genesis:

Reports of financial loss at the university came to the fore early this year when the university's crime desk detected fraud in the management of KYU hall of residence account 0140015346901 operated at Stanbic bank. The crime desk received information indicating that several students connived with desk officers and bank officials in the issuance of falsified bank cash paying-in-slips, cash receipts, and bank and university stamp.

Under this scheme, students who made partial payments would be given receipts indicating they made full payments.

"The desk officers, their unofficial agents and their accomplices do carefully solicit for willing students willing to pay Shs 260,000 to be issued cash paying-in- slips and receipts indicating they fully paid the amount of Shs 460,000," reads a June 4, 2012 memo by Samuel Oryem, the university's security, intelligence and investigation officer.

In such cases, our source indicates that only Shs 60,000 would be deposited to the university account and Shs 200,000 shared out among the architects of this scam leaving a loss of Shs 400,000 for the university. The memo lists 21 students who had only paid Shs 60,000 but had receipts indicating they paid Shs 460,000.

Indeed the auditor's report hints at this, "Some amounts receipted were not corresponding with the amounts reflected in the bank statements.....some transfers from faculty accounts were receipted but were not reflected on the bank statements."

Audit details:

The audit report indicates that Shs 66m was lost in deliveries by Hendra Technical Services. The firm was contracted to supply building materials worth Shs 72 million, but the audit report shows that only items worth Shs 5.8m were documented as having been received.

It also indicates that Shs 68 million was given to five different item suppliers of the university without acknowledgement receipts, while a total of Shs 690 million was remitted to URA but wasn't reflected on the bank statement. One city accountant this week told The Observer that scenarios like these raise suspicion as to whether the money was actually paid to URA or the said suppliers.

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