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Tightening the noose: BoU issues new rules on accessing cash rooms at currency centres

Bank of Uganda last week fired all staff at Mbale regional currency center. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA — The Bank of Uganda (BoU) has issued new rules on accessing machine rooms at its currency centres following reports of theft of cash at its Mbale branch recently.

According to the guidelines issued by Dr Bazinzi Natamba, the BoU acting Currency Director, staff not belonging to the machine room should be allowed access.

“In order to mitigate risks and strengthen internal controls in our currency operations, please observe the following; No Note Examiner should access a Counting/Machine Room of another Currency Branch without the required authorization and No staff other than Note Examiners should participate in the Counting/ Machine Room activities such as sorting, punching and strapping of stocks,” the directive issued on Monday, September 2, reads in part.

Dr Natamba added that there will be closer use of CCTV cameras to monitor operations of the currency strong room after it emerged that some bank staff were earlier caught on CCTV camera stealing old notes that were meant to be destroyed.

“Always ensure that the daily CCTV recordings are reviewed. Immediately stop staff from carrying into the counting rooms any items such as tea, water, eats, juices, among others, for personal use. Urgently remove waste baskets/ boxes in the counting rooms,” the note adds.

The Central Bank is issuing notes in a bid to save face following rising cases of operational loopholes.

Last week, this website reported that BoU had sacked all staff at the Mbale currency centre after an investigation established that some of them were involved in theft of hard cash.

Sources said more security was last Thursday deployed at the currency centre in an attempt to reinforce monitoring and supervision.

Sources said all staff at the centre from cleaners to senior managers were fired after some of them were caught on CCTV camera picking old currency that is destined to be destroyed.

Whereas the allegations of theft surfaced some months ago, sources said BoU management decided to conduct a thorough investigation to establish the extent of the matter.

The investigation revealed that huge sums had been stolen from the strong room, hence the latest action.

Ms Charity Mugumya, the BoU communications manager, was not immediately available for a comment.

The revelation comes months after investigations into the extra cargo that was loaded on a Bank of Uganda (BoU) chattered plane was extended to currency centres in Mbale, Kabale and Fort Portal. The head of BoU Currency Centres in Kabale and Mbale were also questioned for failure to detect the extra consignment on a chartered plane with sensitive government cargo.

Mr Francis Kakeeto, the Assistant Currency Director Bank of Uganda Mbale Branch, and two other officials were charged in the relation to the reported extra currency that BoU brought into the country from France in April.

The Central Bank has over the last year been in the news for the wrong reasons. Recently, the committee, which was formed by President Museveni in February following concerns about Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile’s sweeping staff changes, recommended that that the Board of Directors reviews all promotions effected on 7th February 2018 and rectify the departure from the standing policy on recruitments as contained in the Administration Manual and highlighted in this report.

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