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MTN Uganda refunds clients’ money after uproar

MTN Uganda Senior Manager Corporate Affairs, Ms. Justina Ntabgoba-Kayemba said the company has refunded clients whose money was stolen on Easter Monday.  (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – Telecom giant, MTN Uganda says it has refunded agents and vendors whose mobile money float was stolen by yet to be identified individuals but believed to be company crafty staff on Easter Monday.

MTN Uganda’s spokesperson Justina Ntabgoba told PML Daily on Thursday evening that all the refunds to the customers and agents have been done.

Asked how much has been refunded to both customers and agents, Ms. Ntabgoba said “we are investigating.”

“Am waiting for all those details from our technical team and I will be able to get back to you,” she said.

This website however, independently learnt from sources within the company that crafty MTN Uganda staff manipulated the mobile money system– and stole up to UGX100m on Eater Monday.

Ms. Ntabgoba said the company has embarked on an intense internal audit to identify the loopholes in the system including the department responsible for the mess that has so far put the telecom giant in spotlight.

At least one MTN agent in Katwe confirmed receipt of the refund amounting UGX376372 from MTN Uganda.

She said her money was deducted by the company on Easter Monday without her consent.

Industry sources have told PML Daily that the scam brings into focus the issue of regulation. The question as to how the mobile money service is to be regulated has been around for a while with no convincing answer.

Both Bank of Uganda and the Uganda Communications Commission share some powers to regulate the service. But there has been no comprehensive law or policy on such a critical financial service.

However, Bank of Uganda Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende said this is bound to change with the enactment of the National Payments Systems Law that will have the Bank taking sole responsibility for regulation and supervision of the mobile financial services.

The company agents and vendors have recommended that the company intensify security around their systems as the agents are now experiencing reduced business performance due mainly to the criminal activities.

In 2016, MTN was accused of creating fake money value to the tune of UGX21b, which was transferred to its mobile money shops. It was further alleged that MTN created an entity called ‘MTN Corporate Liquid Fund’ as a super-agent for transactions which were a form of illegal overdrawing of its e-accounts.

However, MTN Uganda later said the fictitious UGX21 billion was orchestrated by fraudulent staff and not sanctioned by the telecom company.

“Our staff created false value, they then went to normal existing agents who colluded with them to go and demand money. They deposited this float to an agent. The agent went to Stanbic Bank and said; ‘you see I have this transaction from MTN, can you pay me?’ Stanbic paid them,” the company said in a statement.

The mobile money sector is dominated by two telecoms, MTN Uganda and Airtel, who together account for 99% of mobile money agent market presence.

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