MPs move to probe Bank of Uganda

By Daily Monitor

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PARLIAMENT- Members of Parliament have started a process to investigate the controversial senior staff changes that Bank of Uganda (BoU) Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile made in February.
Several employees of the bank protested the changes.

The move by Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) will be kicked into motion by an inquiry that MPs have directed the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga to conduct, following a petition by unnamed BoU employees demanding a probe into the central bank’s management.

The broad inquiry by Mr Muwanga will look into the circumstances surrounding the closure of National Bank of Commerce (NBC) and Crane Bank (CB) and why former shareholders of the banking institutions were not furnished with reports detailing the plight of their money.

On Tuesday, Cosase Chairman, Mr Abdu Katuntu indicated that the committee expects Mr Muwanga to file a report within 30 days that will inform proceedings into the long-awaited inquiry about the closure of NBC and CB and the transfer of senior staff at BoU.

“We ordered for an audit by the Auditor General and the report should be here within 30 days. That is when we will begin investigations.

We realised that there are [unanswered] questions. How can a process of winding up a bank take 10 years,” Mr Katuntu said.

The inquiry by Cosase will run concurrently with another by the Inspector General of Government Ms Irene Mulyagonja, who recently blocked the staff changes at the bank.

The petition to the IGG and Parliament seeks to investigate the sweeping changes in senior positions at BoU that affected eight executive directors, 13 directors, 24 assistants/deputy directors and four staff confirmations.

Key among the changes was the transfer of Ms Justine Bagyenda, the former director of commercial banks supervision, who was replaced by Dr Tumubweine Twinemanzi.

Dr Twinemanzi was serving as Director Industry Affairs and Content (Economic Affairs).
As director of commercial banks supervision, Ms Bagyenda was at the centre of the closure of NBC and CB since their supervision was under her docket.

Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi, the mover of a separate motion that proposes a select committee set up to investigate BoU operations wants Ms Bagyenda prosecuted for potentially flouting the Anti-Money Laundering Act,2013.

“These are people who have been stealing money indirectly. When Bank of Uganda goes under, it comes to Parliament and we give it money.

Instead of making sure that banks operate ethically, Bagyenda has been colluding to ensure that banks operate unethically and the taxpayer ends up losing,” Mr Mafabi said.

Yesterday, Mr Muwanga said he will file the report to Parliament on Friday, to pave way for investigations likely to start next week.

“The draft report into Bank of Uganda is ready, we are just double-checking a few things before we submit it to Parliament.

We have all the information we need. We hope to submit the report to the Chairperson on Friday. This is our plan and that’s where we are. There is no need for alarm, the report is going to Parliament,” Mr Muwanga said.

Internal turmoil

Although Mr Muwanga declined to explain the delay, sources close to BoU told Daily Monitor that the AG has struggled to get information from BoU because there are two agencies that are currently investigating Mr Mutebile and Ms Bagyenda.

The recent changes by the Governor also appear to have made matters worse since the new office bearers did not have all the critical information.

According to sources at BoU, Ms Bagyenda’s refusal to leave office has not helped the situation.

Mr Mafabi said his motion will put the government on notice to act under the Whistle Blowers Protection Act 2010 to protect whistle blowers from two commercial banks-Diamond Trust and Barclays-who have been threatened with sanctions for leaking Ms Bagyenda’s account details.

Both Diamond Trust Bank and Barclays Bank have issued public apologies to Ms Bagyenda over the leakage of her account details.

Sources at BoU also indicated that the refusal by Ms Bagyenda, who was due to retire in July, to vacate office has also thrown the supervision unit in disarray as one office is currently occupied by two people.