KAMPALA: Ten suspects accused of impersonating a bank customer and stealing $1.8 million ( about Shs6.5 billion) from his account were yesterday charged at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala and remanded to prison.
They were charged with causing financial loss, money laundering and conspiracy to commit a felony.
Prosecution identified the suspects as Moses Ayesiga and David Ssekitto both managers of two Stanbic Bank branches, as well as tellers Geoffrey Nsabagasan, Ritah Komukama and Phiona Nankya.
Also charged were Tefera Okuba Classie Robel, an Eritrean refugee, Brian Natukunda, a sales executive of Kalimjee Energy, and directors of Famane Investment Company Ltd, Oman Ghebreyesus, Elijah Daniel Wanzu and Dede Fiona Bwende.
The syndicate is accused of stealing the money from the bank account of Mr Abdulhakim Hussein, a director of Nile Energy Limited, whom they impersonated after forging his passport and inter-account transfer forms.
The state says they made seven transactions amounting to Shs 6.5 billion. According to court documents, Okuba, who posed as Mr Abdulhakim Hussein, for instance caused the transfer of $287,000 (about Shs1 billion) from the Nile Energy Limited account in Stanbic Bank to another account in the same bank belonging to Petrom Limited.
Prosecutors accuse Ghebreyesus, Wanzu and Bwende, both directors of Famane Investment Company, of receiving $295,000 ( about Shs1 billion) from the Nile Energy account on January 24, 2023, for a purported land sale which is believed to be fictitious.
Prosecutors also accuse Ayesiga and Nankya, who both worked at the Garden City branch, of transferring another US$287,000 from Nile Energy to another account of Petrom Limited without following established bank procedures on February 2., 2023.
Three other bank employees, Ssekitto, Komukama and Nsabagasan, are accused of irregularly processing payments of $1.28m from Nile Energy Limited without following procedures. The State alleges that the trio committed money laundering.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said Dixon Ampumuza Kagurusi, the director of Petrom Limited, is on the run.
In a statement issued yesterday, Stanbic said there had been no breach of its banking system. “The suspects impersonated the account holder and withdrew money over the counter using forged documentation,” the bank said.
It added: “The bank appeals to its customers and Ugandans in general, to safeguard personal and business banking details to avoid becoming victims of identity theft and its resultant fraud.”
Prosecutors allege that the suspects had, in conspiracy with selected bank staff at Freedom City and Garden City branches, earlier opened three accounts in the name of Dickson Ampumuza Kagurusi, Petrom Limited, and Famane Investments Limited.
“After compromising the account of Nile Energy Company, they made the transfers to the three accounts and at least more than seven withdrawals were made of $495,000, $287,000, $295,000, $90,000,$60,000, $295,000 and $495,000 by the suspects who purported to be Mr Hussein, the director of Nile Energy Company Limited,” Mr Enanga, the police spokesperson, said.
These transactions amount to $2,017,000 ( about Shs7.3 billion) but police said the suspects allegedly stole a sum of $1.8 million ( about Shs6.5 billion).
Mr Enanga said on January 23, Ssekitto, Komukama and Nsabagasan allegedly transferred $295,000 to Famane Investments account from Nile Energy Limited. Ghebreyesus and Wanzu cashed a cheque and withdrew the money.
“Another transaction of $782,000 was made from Nile Energy to the account of Petrom Ltd, whose director, Dixon Ampumuza Kagurusi, is still on the run. The transfers were made in two instalments of $495,000 and $287,000 respectively and deposited into account number 9030021572615 of Petrom Ltd, which was withdrawn immediately,” Mr Enanga said.
Luck runs out
Mr Enanga said another fraudulent transaction was carried out on February 2.
He said the next day, Tefera was intercepted with two inter-account transfer forms with a face value of $988,200 that were to be effected from the Nile Energy account and credited into an account belonging to Dixon Kagurusi Ampumuza, the director of Petrom Ltd.
“The suspect also had in his possession, a Kenyan passport in the name of Mr Mohamed Abduhakim Hussein, which prompted the bank to verify with the account holders, who denied any authorisations. The suspect was arrested and found with $4,900 and Shs600,000 in his possession; which was exhibited,” he said.
Mr Enanga said the directors of Famane Investments were arrested and, under interrogation, admitted to receiving the stolen cash, which they claimed to have used in a gold transaction of $250,000 with a one Mansoor and Sam Fred.
However, the police were not given supporting documents to prove the alleged gold transaction. A manhunt continues for Ampumuza, the director of Petrom Ltd. A person with the same name ran unsuccessfully for the Kinkizi West parliamentary seat at the last election as an independent candidate, having failed to win the NRM primary.
•Moses Ayesiga, Stanbic Bank Garden City Branch Manager
•David Ssekitto – Stanbic Bank Freedom City Branch manager
• Bank tellers Geoffrey Nsabagasan, Ritah Komukama and Phiona Nankya.
•Tefera Okuba Classie Robel, an Eritrean refugee
• Brian Natukunda, a sales executive of Kalimjee Energy
• Three directors of Famane Investment Company Ltd-Oman Ghebreyesus, Elijah Daniel Wanzu and Dede Fiona Bwende.