4 December 2012

Uganda: Police Quiz Three Finance Officials Over Pension Cash

Police interrogated three top officials Monday from the ministry of finance as part of the ongoing probe into the sh169b ministry of public service pension scam.

Isaac Mpoza, the commissioner treasury services department, Jennifer Muhuruzi, the assistant commissioner financial management services and L. Semakula, the commissioner finance management services department appeared at criminal intelligence and investigations directorate (CIID) headquarters in Kibuli following police summons.

The trio turned up at Kibuli close to midday and met the director CIID, Grace Akullo briefly before the interrogations got underway more than two hours later. The trio is part of six others earlier been summoned by the police. Attempts to get comment from Akullo were futile as she was said to have a very busy schedule.

However, sources said the trio was summoned to shed light on the functioning of the treasury department of the ministry in regard to payments of pensioners. The three together with others reportedly signed on the various lists of pensioners before forwarding it to the central bank for payments.

"We want to know on whether there was any due diligence exercised on their part, particularly what they based their decision on in forwarding the lists to Bank of Uganda," a source said.

The trio was interrogated as fresh details emerged in the ongoing Police probe into the $113,000 (about sh282.5m ) foreign pensioners scam suggesting that double payments were made for the same.

Police investigations show that payments were first made to foreign pensioners by the ministry through Stanbic Bank and later, in what is suspected to be fraudulent, through Cairo International Bank (CIB).

Information availed to the Police by the public service ministry, indicates that payments to foreign pensioners were supposed to be made through Stanbic and not CIB as was the case. Police investigations indicate that the first payments were made through Stanbic Bank and routed through the respective High Commissions to the intended beneficiaries, with proof of reciept.

Police late last month arrested four prime suspects- Christopher Obey and David Oloka, both former principal accountant and senior assistant accountant in charge pensions in the same ministry respectively; Stephen Lwanga, an assistant accountant in the ministry and Peter Ssajjabi, the general secretary of East African Community Pension Beneficiaries Association (EACBA) in connection with the scam.

The four, who are also prime suspects in the sh 169b pension scam and had earlier in the month been arrested only to be later released on police bond were mid last week released on police bond after recording a charge and caution statement with the police. Police preferred against them a series of charges among them abuse, causing financial loss and conspiracy to defraud.

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