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Printing firm Oberthur Fiduciaire speaks out on BoU saga

PARIS/KAMPALA – French currency minter, Oberthur Fiduciaire, a company contracted by BoU to print and deliver an unspecified amount of UGX banknotes to the country has entirely dismissed claims that there was any extra money printed.

The company has also denied knowledge of extra pallets containing money as alleged by a sections of the public including Uganda police.

This was after Central Bank was rocked by a fresh scandal in which unauthorised consignments believed to be found their way on what should have been a top-security exclusive flight.

CEO East Africa Magazine a local news agency reports that, Allen & Overy LLP, who are lawyers to the French company, blamed the operator of the plane, whom they say carried unauthorised cargo and didn’t bother to notify them beforehand.

Oberthur Fiduciare strongly rejected any claims and allegations that there was any extra and or unauthorised money on-board and or printed by them, saying: “Oberthur Fiduciaire confirms that the exact number of banknotes ordered by the BoU has been printed and delivered.”

The French firm also clarified that they are not associated with Oberthur Technologies SA, which is facing a 2.5 years ban from World Bank and partner agencies over a corruption scandal in Bangladesh.

Central Bank last week confirmed that Kuehne + Nagel International AG, a global transport and logistics company based in Schindellegi, Switzerland is the transporter hired by Oberthur Fiduciaire to transport the money to Uganda.

“Oberthur Fiduciaire further denies having committed any wrongdoing in relation to its business relationship with the BoU and the provision of banknotes,” Allen & Overy LLP is quoted as saying by the CEO Magazine.  

“For the sake of clarity, the MD-11 (The McDonnell Douglas MD-11) aircraft that was initially supposed to be used to ship banknotes to the BoU had been grounded in Kampala for technical reasons and replaced by a larger B747 (Boeing 747). The operator of the B747 has, without notifying Oberthur Fiduciaire, used the same flight to ship one pallet of replacement parts for the MD-11 and four pallets of regular cargo,” the law firm further clarified on behalf of Oberthur Fiduciare.

Oberthur Fiduciaire, on Tuesday June 18, 2019 offered financial compensation to BoU in the form of a rebate on future transport costs as this was contrary to the contractual arrangements between BoU and Oberthur Fiduciaire,

PML Daily however learnt that the Central Bank has since rejected both the apology and the offer from printing firm till investigations are done.

On Wednesday last week, the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and police arrested several BoU officials in charge of currency, procurement and security and officials from the Customs Department, airport police officers and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) staff. “Our key point is why and how did it (airline) carry extra cargo and for who?” Lt Col Nakalema said.

On Friday, Lt Col Edith Nakalema issued a statement saying the arrests had been carried out in liaison with CID and BoU to conduct a special investigation on the matter pertaining to the bank’s procurement and supply chain activities.

In a statement on Friday, BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile said he requested the Anti-Corruption Unit of State House to investigate the matter after his staff discovered the anomaly.

A statement by Uganda Revenue Authority has since said that the 5 extra cargo pallets contained other cargo which belonged to various individuals / companies / organizations.

“As per normal customs clearance procedure, this cargo was offloaded into the licensed bonds at the airport and subsequently the owners made customs declarations, paid applicable taxes and Customs physically verified each consignment to ascertain accuracy and consistency with the declaration and released the goods to the owners,” read a statement by Dickson Kateshumbwa, the URA Customs Commissioner.

Some of the organisations/entities said to have had cargo on the said plane, include businessman Charles Mbiire and Omar Mandela’s Mandela Millers Ltd. A number of UN agencies as well as USAID, Ministry of Health and other private businesses have also been named by authorities as having had cargo on the said plane.

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