NEWS

3,000 youth petition Rugunda over FIA’s failure to probe Bagyenda’s wealth

Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda’s prime minister.

KAMPALA: A youth advocacy group has petitioned Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda over what it perceives as failure by the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) to investigate former Director of Supervision at Bank of Uganda Justine Bagyenda’s source of wealth.

Describing itself as Youth Power Research Uganda (YoPRU) with an about 3,000 members, the group claims that since a whistleblower alerted FIA to investigate Bagyenda’s source of wealth in March, nothing has been done. FIA is the government agency mandated to monitor and investigate money laundering activities in the country.

Following March reports that Bagyenda had Shs19 billion on three different accounts, which sparked a public debate on how she accumulated such amount of money within six years, a whistle blower petitioned FIA, demanding that Bagyenda be investigated. Whereas FIA executive director Sydney Asubo in March told journalists that the authority had opened inquiries into the matter, it has emerged that this has not yet happened.

FIA boss Sydney Asubo and IGG Irene Mulyagonja (FILE PHOTO)

And now the youth say this shows that Asubo is not competent for the job.

“Even two months after the petition, there is single draft report made hence casting fear among anti-corruption crusaders to think that Asubo, the Executive Director FIA, is no longer competent for the job,” the May 30 petition reads in part.

In the petition that is also copied to the President and the Speaker of Parliament, the youth also claim that the accumulation of wealth by BoU officials led to the closure of commercial banks such as Crane Bank.

The former Crane Bank has remained a thorn in the flesh for Bank of Uganda

“In the same vein, we would like to commend Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, who overruled the subjudice rule and wrote to the Auditor General to go ahead and audit BoU on how three banks, including one big bank (Crane Bank) carrying a systematic risk could be hastily closed without considering its impact on jobs for youth and financial penetration,” read the petition signed by Mathias Ssempala, the group’s head of publicity.

Bagyenda has been a subject of public debate in the last two months after she was axed as head of the powerful supervision docket at the Central Bank and sent into early retirement amid leaks of her questionable bank transactions. She rejected early retirement and has been appointed advisor to the Governor.

Former Bank of Uganda director Justine Bagyenda. Whistle blowers want her probed for the fat accounts (FILE PHOTO)

In March, IGG Irene Mulyagonja quizzed Bagyenda over her alleged wealth which it is reported, she accumulated in the last six years, as director in charge of supervision.

Already, former Public Accounts Committee Chairman and Budadri West Member of Parliament Nathan Nandala Mafabi has called for investigation of Barclays Bank and DTB — the banks that harboured the controversial transactions, over money laundering.

Calling for the arrest of Ms Bagyenda, Mafabi says the banks have been working with her to launder money on her accounts.

Nandala Mafabi asserts that the banks have been conspiring with her to launder money to her accounts (FILE PHOTO)

Barclays Bank Uganda and Diamond Trust Bank also apologized to Bagyenda for exposing her accounts details in the media.

According to leaked documents, Ms Bagyenda owns account number 5106903903 in Diamond Trust Bank described as ‘low start savings account’ which as of December 01, 2017, had a total of Shs11.4 billion.

Going by that figure, Ms Bagyenda is richer than her former boss Dr Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, who is the highest paid salary earner in Uganda.

Dr Mutebile, the central bank governor earns Shs53.3 million per month. According to statements available, Bagyenda has been banking Shs66.6m per week, making it Shs266m per month between 2013 and 2018

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