30 January 2013

Uganda: Public Service - Lwamafa, Seven Others Remanded

Kampala — The Permanent Secretary of Public Service, Jimmy Lwamafa and seven others were Tuesday charged and remanded over suspected embezzlement of sh165.4bn through ghost pensioners including Kenyan ones.

Lwamafa and the other suspects denied the charges before Magistrate, Sarah Langa Siu.

The other suspects are Stephen Kunsa Kiwanuka, the Ministry's Director of Research and Development, Christopher Obey, the Ministry's Principal Accountant, Japians David Oloka, Senior Accountants Assistant and Stephen Lwanga an Accounts assistant in the Ministry.

The others are Peter Ssajjabi, the Secretary, East African Community Beneficiaries Association and two employees of Cairo International Bank.

These are the Bank's Assistant Manager Operations, Ishaka Ssentongo and the bank's Compliance Officer, Mugeere Rahmah Nakigozi.

One of the suspects Francis Lubega, the Ministry's Information systems analyst, was not in court and therefore could not take plea. The court issued a criminal summons against him to appear on Thursday, January 31, 2013.

Relatives and friends of the suspects jammed the courtroom as the charges were read out to them. Some attacked the journalists for coming to cover the case telling them to go and wait outside in the yard and leave the relatives of the suspects to listen to the proceedings.

In the first count of abuse of office, Lwamafa and Obey are jointly charged with abuse of their authority and requisitioned for payments for 2605 false pension beneficiaries which caused government loss of sh165,243,746,671. They allegedly committed the offence over a period of three financial years from October 2009 to September 2012.

In the second count of causing financial loss, Kunsa Kiwanuka faces charged of omitting to ensure that the performance plans systems and procedures were adhered to knowing well that that omission would cause the loss of the sh165.243bn.

In the third count, Obey and Oloka are accused of embezzlement of sh173,993,660 (US$87,434) which they purported to pay nine Kenyan pensioners who were non-existent.

Obey allegedly asked Cairo International Bank to prepare bank drafts for the nine false Kenyan pensioners and to release the said money to Oloka.

The prosecution also accused Oloka of omitting to prepare and maintain bank reconciliation records for the 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12 financial knowing that it would cause loss of the said money.

In yet another count, Obey is jointly charged with Lubega creating 2605 false or ghost pensioners, through whom the sh165.242bn was stolen. Lwanga also allegedly created the list of nine false (ghost) Kenyan pensioners through which the US$87,434 was stolen.

In another charge, Sajjabi, Sentongo and Nakigozi were charged with theft of the sh165,243,746,671 and in the last count, the three together with Lwamafa, Obey and Lubega are charged with conspiracy to defraud government of the said monies.

The suspects were sent on remand until Thursday when they are expected to apply for bail in court. According to prosecution, investigations into the fraud are still going on.

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