KAMPALA- City Lawyer Kanyererezi Masembe and Bank of Baroda Managing Director Ashrin Kumar met the underfire former Bank of Uganda Executive Director for Supervision, Justine Bagyenda inside the central bank premises on a Sunday.
The incident, in which the BoU security directorate has admitted was a blatant breach of the central bank security guidelines came up on Thursday as Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) scrutinized the CCTV footage as it investigated how Ms Bagyenda stole loads of documents from the bank.
Ms Bagyenda on Wednesday confirmed having carried out bags of documents from the central bank, but insisted that the items carried out were personal and included plaques she obtained during her banking career.
MPs were on Thursday astounded to watch Mr Masembe as identified by Ms Bagyenda’s bodyguard Juliet Adikolet sneak into the bank unchecked on a non-working day.
“My principal told me go and bring someone,” police officer Adikolet told MPs insisting that Ms Bagyenda should answer the questions.
Ms Bagyenda infuriated the MPs when she said she didn’t know the security policy.
The probe into Bank of Uganda’s stolen documents came after accusations that on 11 February 2018, Ms Bagyenda’s with the help of her bodyguard Juliet Adikolet and driver Dan Turyahabwe sneaked out bags of unknown items without passing through the security of the Bank.
MPs may now be forced to summon Mr Masembe and his MMAKS Advocates, a subject of controversy for his role in the controversial takeover and sale of Crane Bank to hear his side of the story. The Committee has already questioned the Shs 900 million paid to the law firm in the controversial sale of Crane Bank to dfcu Bank.
On November 28, 2016, BOU engaged MMAKS Advocates to provide transaction advice to take over CBL and the firm would on December 9, 2016, on behalf of BoU, invite 13 bidders to bid for the purchase of assets and assumption of liabilities of CBL.
Between 12th and 15th December 2016, BOU issued the Inventory report to 6 bidders after signing a confidential agreement with them to undertake due diligence on the assets and liabilities of CBL.
Subsequently, on 20th December 20, 2016, two bids were received and evaluated.
The costs to MMAKS are part of the Shs12 billion intervention costs BoU claims to have sunk in CBL during the takeover.
Lawyers of MMAKS are also directors of some commercial banks yet they do business with BoU which is their regulator.
Below are experts of the Committee proceedings on Thursday, December 10.
Michael Tusiime: The Director Security said this is one of the other incidences, is there another incidence?
Milton Orech Director Security, Bank of Uganda: When this happened, we looked at the security files and realize that on 4th February 2018, two visitors came to the Bank without clearance.
Abdu Katuntu: So two people accessed the Bank without clearance?
Orech: It isn’t Bagyenda responsible with clearing them but she facilitated their entering on that day and they went to her office.
Katuntu: Which day was that?
Orech: It was a Sunday.
Juliet Adikolet (Bagyenda’s bodyguard): My work is to give clearance to my principal, other issues aren’t my business because now the questions are becoming many.
Francis Mwijukye: The witness is becoming hostile
Katuntu: There is no reason why you should lose your temper. You are going to answer every question asked to the best of your knowledge. Whether they are too many or not, you are going to answer them. There is no need of making a fuss over nothing. There is no comedy in this. Who was that gentleman you were moving with?
Juliet: Since my principal is around, can she help us answer?
Katuntu: Don’t irritate us. Who is that gentleman behind you?
Juliet: That is [Kanyererezi] Masembe (lawyer MMAKs Advocates).
Orech: The bodyguard should be able to tell us whose car it is because she is the one that escorted it.
Moses Kasibante: You have seen this footage before, so some of these things you shouldn’t meander
Katuntu: What type of breach is this?
Orech: We are supposed to register all vehicles that come to the bank, but this wasn’t registered. The person came without clearance and the car came in without clearance.
Kasibante: Does the office of Director Security open on Sunday?
Orech: We have hotlines if you want to enter, you call and get cleared?
Katuntu: Was that vehicle registered?
Orech: It wasn’t registered.
Juliet: Those are my principal’s visitors. Even some of you have honourables
Katuntu: As leaders we need to have strong shock absorbers. I don’t want us to fall victim of provocation. If someone thinks she will provoke anger from us, it is an attempt in futility.
Kasibante: Where were you guiding the visitor to?
Juliet: I was sent by my principal.
Katuntu: Your Bodyguard identified one of the visitors, who is the other?
Bagyenda: Managing Director Bank of Baroda. Ashrin Kumar.
Orech: It isn’t a normal practice. Some of these things have come up when we are doing investigations and we are continuing with investigation, action will be taken when investigations are done.
Tusiime: The Bank administration manual, gives a category of the time to access the Bank and particularly non staff Monday-Friday between 8:30AM-5Pm. We have seen footage of visitors on Sunday, did you know of restrictions of visitors access to banking premises.
Bagyenda: I didn’t know.
Anita Among: How long have you been in the bank?
Bagyenda: 35years and four months.
Tusiime: Manual also said if you are to access bank on weekend, you ought to seek clearance from Director Security, ?
Bagyenda: I didn’t because I didn’t know it was a policy
Security: It is the Human Resource to make sure staff understand the manual. As far as I know, there were several reminders to staff to adhere to manual. Manual is an instrument that is accessible to everybody in the bank.
Elijah Okupa: Were these two people your visitors?
Okupa: Were they on official lawyer duty?
Bagyenda: The Baroda MD had a request to do with his clearance. MMAKs were lawyers.
Okupa: Do you have minutes of that meeting?
Bagyenda: We have no minutes.
Katuntu: Do you have records of that meeting?
Bagyenda: The record of the meeting was the output.
Sarah Nakawunde: Have they subjected the security personnel to disciplinary action?
Orech: Some of them have been subjected to disciplinary action, some referred to higher authority.
Nakawunde: Why did she feel it necessary to carry out documents in evenings and weekends?
Bagyenda: The first footage of 10th February I was on leave and that is the time I had to come and clear my personal documents.
Katuntu: Is it normal for officers on leave to come access their offices even after working hours? Including have keys to their offices, literally working?
Orech: Management profile can access Bank 24/7 even when they are on leave. Access isn’t carrying anything, it is doing whatever you do and carry nothing.
Adikolet: They aren’t part of my duties, but there was only one person.
Orech: On weekends, gates are manned by different people. Opening the gate isn’t part of her duties.
Sseggona: Do you have a control room where you observe proceedings in the bank. Have you witnessed that there were breaches in the day in question and established who is responsible.
Katuntu: Withdraw the first question because it touches on the security of the institution.
Beatrice Anywar: Bagyenda after 35years doesn’t know the security manual. How was she managing the whole bank structure when you don’t know each department. I find it strange that you have been at bank
Bagyenda: Director Security has clarified that our category, I have never been stopped. I can come in at any time.
Anywar: I didn’t ask about the movements.
Bagyenda: I knew the checking was there, that is why I passed through the scanner.
Anywar: Why didn’t your bodyguard have the bags checked and why did you use the emergency door.
Juliet: I don’t know why the bags weren’t checked. I don’t see because I don’t sit at the entrance. My work is to give security. I don’t confirm my principal’s things in the bag.
Anywar: What were instructions to go get the two visitors?
Juliet: My principal told me, go and pick so and so.
Anywar: You came and had and you had engagement with security people?
Juliet: It wasn’t an argument, we were just talking those are the people we work with.
Sseggona: My interpretation of last statement may not be healthy and we may be judged as a committee. May we take a decision to expunge them from the record?
Twinemanzi (Executive Director Banking Supervision): We aren’t allowed to have visitors after working hours and the few times we have had visitors after working hours, there is a procedure they have to go through.
Bagyenda: We all watched footage, people carrying bags didn’t open the emergency door. I didn’t see the people carrying bags stopping security from checking.
Katuntu: As senior staff of Bank of Uganda, do you know you have an obligation to have all property out of the bank checked?
Bagyenda: I wasn’t among the people who carried the bags, I will answer for myself.
Katuntu: Was you bag checked?
Bagyenda: I passed through the scanner.
Katuntu: You also breached the security?
Bagyenda: I didn’t breach, I presented myself for checking.
Sheila Mwine: Items taken out of the bank were personal belongings, why then did you return them to the bank?
Bagyenda: All the things I took out were personal and the day I was coming from the airport and the things I was carrying were reading material, gifts for staff. I have been working in the bank for 35years, the things I took out weren’t the ones I returned. I had gifts I got from South Africa.
Among: Did you come straight from airport?
Okupa: Why didn’t you leave the gifts home?
Bagyenda: No. I didn’t go home, I didn’t see that in the footage. I am happy to see the tracking logo. When those bags went out, I wasn’t at the security. I made that clear.
Mbabazi Janepher: Are bags still in or out of the bank?
Bagyenda: The footage says it all. The packing took a lot of time.
Katuntu: How did you know about the complaint?
Bagyenda: I was told at checking point that going forward, my bags have to be checked.
Rweikikiga Asiimwe (BOU Security Consultant): I came to learn from her that we were witch hunting her because we obtained a search warrant. Employees have an obligation to desist from taking actions that compromise security of the bank.
Call people to see what you are loading, there is no document that is supposed to leave the bank without being sanctioned. Security procedures were flouted by her and staff who were taking out things. Security takes the lead and every staff is obliged to ensure that they are checked.
Margaret Babadiri: Did security get directive from Bagyenda that her property shouldn’t be checked?
Katuntu: Did Bagyenda use her influence to bypass the security protocol?
BoU Security: If you see the footage, the influence or intimidation can be said by people who didn’t search her.
Katuntu: Those people have another criminal process so we can’t interrogate her.
Kasibante: Did you see yourself in the footage carrying those bags?
Kasibante: Where did you pick them from?
Could you be knowing what was exactly in the bag.
Juliet: My principal told me, Julie, take these to the car?
Kasibante: When did you find out there is something unusual
Orech: We got confidential information on 13th March 2018 that some things were being carried out of the bank without authority?
Kasibante: In your opinion, was this due to connivance between Bagyenda and security officers or was it because of relaxation on their part. How long will investigations take?
Katuntu: It is possible that minutes were there and they found themselves out of the bank. We aren’t only interrogating lapse of security, but missing documentation. Were these documents there and they found themselves out of the bank?
Orech: If somebody wants to get rid of the documents, they could be shredded. Security department can’t be in charge of their department.
Kasibante: Have you had time to interact with the strangers who accessed the bank without clearance.
Bagyenda: In fairness,
Katuntu: We determine which good questions, so don’t try to categorise these questions.
Bagyenda: I was continuing, it isn’t fairness.
Katuntu: Can you follow the proceedings, rules of these committees. You are here as a witness. Your duty is to answer the questions and leave it at that.
Bagyenda: I am the one who packed my bags.
Among: You said you gave information on 13th March, who gave you that information. When bags left the bank, did you get the report.
Security: We got this information through a whistle blower whom we want to protect. We usually get reports every day, but we had no report that particular day.
There are some correspondents where she said she knew the policy, but today she said she doesn’t know the policy.
Orech: You would see a well calculated mood. The one you are seeing here are edited, she would be on phone communicating I don’t know who.
Sseggona: He says what we have is an edited version and it has two versions, first on Bagyenda who has only seen version. Then integrity of the proceedings. That we again with Bagyenda look at those unedited footage.
Security: We are very open to that, we couldn’t put these things, we can still have select committee go and watch these things. There is a time you give a summary.
Katuntu: The word editing I and that causes a credibility
Security: some of those areas aren’t material. Katuntu: It isn’t about the Committee, but person accused. They should be able to access wholly, you have taken a step back because we have, there is no way we would analyse an edited version of the recording. I am just so much interested in the integrity of this process and we hold each other to prudential standards. May you forward the original, unedited footage to this committee. Can the director security forward the unedited footage, and we will have to look at it in her presence.
Sseggona: Section 16(11) of the Security Manual. Shall not receive unofficial visitors in their offices. Directors. Authorized employees will seek clearance for the visitors. Did you seek clearance?
Bagyenda: I wasn’t aware of the p[olicy. When my visitors came in, I am not the one the opened the gate, that is clearance enough? I wasn’t aware of seeking clearance
Sseggona: How would they give you clearance when you never asked for oit?
Bagyenda: I thought that was a statement? The visitors should have been stopped from coming to the bank.
Katuntu: Did Bagyenda know the policy and flouted it, it is the question of the committee.