Uganda: UN Smuggled Goods into Uganda Using BOU - Ofwono

Bank of Uganda (file photo)

At least eight government officials in Uganda have been arrested and detained as the State House Anti-Corruption Unit investigates Bank of Uganda (BoU) officials in connection with procurement of classified items.

Mr Ofwono Opondo, the Executive Director of the government Media Centre, Those arrested include directors in charge of currency, procurement as well as security, Ofwono Opondo, the Executive Director of the government Media Centre has said.

Others arrested are customs officials, airport police officers, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) staff among others.

Eight Bank of Uganda top officials are under investigation by the State House Anti-corruption unit for alleged collusion in a procurement and supply chain process anomaly. Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo says in April this year, about 15 Bank of Uganda officials travelled to Paris, France to procure 'printable items' for the government.

Government then on April 27, chartered a plane from Paris to Entebbe, but among Bank of Uganda’s official 20 pallets, according to Opondo, there were other extra 5 pallets of 13 private individuals and organisations including the United Nations (UN) irregularly loaded unto the cargo plane. No other items were meant to be on the plane except Bank of Uganda's.

Ofwono says it is surprising that organisations such as the UN would collude with government institutions and individuals to bring in items into the country disguised as government items. Among the smuggled items, Ofwono says included blood reagents and solar systems.

Ofwono says the heads of currency centre Mbale and Kabale were responsible for verifying the pallets but they only reported about the extra pallets to the Bank of Uganda superiors 4 days later on May 2. On May 3, Bank of Uganda governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile wrote to the State House Anti-corruption unit to investigate the involved officials.

"During the verification process, BOU staff reported an anomaly in the inventory of the expected consignment,” Mutebile stated.

According to head of State House Anti-corruption unit, Lt Col Edith Nakalema, also under investigation are Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), airport security personnel and customs officials who are being questioned about the matter.

“The investigation is being carried out following the invitation by the governor Bank of Uganda,” Nakalema said.

Earlier, there were reports that the issue involves the printing of money (over Shs 90bn), which was coming into the country. Uganda prints its money from Germany. The unverified reports indicated that some of the officials at the Central Bank wanted to fleece part of the money that was coming into the country. We could neither verify this claim.

In the past two years, the central bank has been cast into the public storm with several officials there accused of fraud. An investigation by a parliamentary committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) indicated there were irregularities in the closure of defunct banks – with indications that some officials at the bank could have benefited financially.

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