KAMPALA: The Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA), the government agency mandated to monitor and investigate money laundering activities, is yet to formally institute an inquiry into the bank accounts of the former director of supervision at Bank of Uganda (BoU), Ms Justine Bagyenda, two months after.
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.
Highly placed sources told this website that the investigation against Bagyenda is being frustrated by FIA board chairperson Leo Kibirango, who once worked at BoU with Bagyenda. Mr Kibirango, who had served as a Deputy Governor of the Central Bank since 1980, was appointed Governor in November 1981.
We could not immediately reach Mr Asubo or Mr Kibirango to respond to the allegations. Other board members of the board are Grace Akullo, Patrick Ocailap and Patricia Mutesi.
The revelation comes days after detectives at the Crime Intelligence and Investigation Directorate (CIID) headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala, grilled four editors of online news sites in connection with publishing leaked bank details of Bagyenda.
Their lawyer, Mr Nicholas Opiyo, accused police of attempting to muzzle the press.
“In a serious criminal justice system, a public official suspected of illicit wealth accumulation – who hasn’t denied the same but only claims invasion of privacy – would be under police investigation-not courageous online journalists who have exposed these claims,” he said.
Ms 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.
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.
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