Uganda: Three Arrested As Police Intercepts Shs1.6b Scam

Police have arrested three people in an ongoing police investigation into court officials who allowed payment of more than Shs1.6 billion through a debt recovery firm.

The money in question was meant to pay unidentified 2,006 claimants, and police intercepted forged documents used to access the payments.

The trio was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) following a complaint by the Permanent Secretary to the Judiciary, Mr Pius Bigirimana.

Verified documents obtained by this newspaper show that the questionable payment was effected following requests for refund of security deposits by parties in a Commercial Court case relating to Kasekende Mujuzi and others versus the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

Other sources in Finance ministry told Daily Monitor that Mr Bigirimana wrote to CID after the Secretary to Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi, alerted the PS about the "questionable transaction."

In a July 10 letter to Mr Bigirimana, the CID Director, Ms Grace Akullo, said the money was fraudulently transferred from the Judiciary accounts to M/s Heed Debt Recovery Service Limited in Eco Bank.

Ms Akullo added that by the time the fraud was detected, the suspects had already withdrawn Shs200 million. The local bank would later refund the money to government.

"... provide the requisition with its attachment made to your office, which led to approval of the payment, a list of officials who handled the process and any other documents related to the case under investigation," Ms Akullo demanded.

She also asked Mr Bigirmana to make a statement in relation to the alleged transfer.

CID spokesperson Charles Twine confirmed the case but could not reveal details of the case since investigations are still ongoing.

He said: "the suspect has since been charged and remanded to Kitalya Prison."

The Judiciary Principal Communications Officer, Mr Solomon Muyita, yesterday confirmed that there was a transaction, which was later found to be questionable.

The CID director has since submitted her preliminary report to Mr Bigirimana as investigations continue.

Mr Muyita said Mr Bigirimana himself blew the whistle about the scam.

"There is an old case and the said money had been deposited following dispute on whether terminal benefits are subject to taxation. The money was held until court decided to release it to the beneficiaries. When the transaction was made, the question is that the people who were paid were the rightful beneficiaries?" he said.

Mr Muyita added: "The documents looked genuine and were even cleared by auditors but Eco Bank questioned the funds and contacted the permanent secretary and Secretary to the Treasury."

He added that the people who operated the bank account where the money was wired have since been arrested.

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