KAMPALA – Members of Parliament have reacted with dismay to the re-appointment of Justine Bagyenda to the board of the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) and accused the Finance minister of double standards since she is under investigation by the same authority over allegations of money laundering.
Bagyenda is being investigated for money laundering and fraud by the FIA but the Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, re-appointed her to the FIA board nonetheless.
Her re-appointment has rubbed parliamentarians the wrong way with some wondering how the body will investigate its board member without them interfering with the investigation.
“If they had wanted to re-appoint her to the Board, at least they should have waited for the outcome of the ongoing investigations,” Buhweju MP, Francis Mwijukye, said.
Winfred Nuwagaba, the Shadow Attorney General, told the appointments committee not to approve Bagyenda’s appointment until she’s cleared by the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the FIA.
“I hope sanity will prevail in the Appointments Committee to stay her vetting and approval pending clearance from the institutions investigating her,” Hon Nuwagaba said.
When asked on the telephone to comment on this article, Minister Kasaija said he had already made the appointment before Bagyenda was sucked into the investigations even though his letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga informing her of the appointments is dated May 7.
Bagyenda was early this year fired by BOU Governor Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile before she could officially retire in June.
Activists and some members of parliament have called for an investigation into the source of Bagyenda’s wealth which they said was not commensurate with her known sources of income.
For instance, recent leaked bank documents showed one of her fixed deposits on her account at Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) was US $214,149 on December 29, 2017 at an interest rate of three per cent. The maturity date is set for Dec. 29, 2018, leading to a net interest of US $5,536 after a tax deduction of U S$977.
Earlier on September 7, 2017, Bagyenda made a fixed deposit of Shs179 million and expects to earn a net interest of Shs7.5 million on maturity in March 2018.
She had on December 29, 2016, made another fixed deposit of US $1776, 717 which matured in December 2017.
On December 28, 2014, the transactions which leaked from private auditors indicate, Bagyenda did not make any fixed deposit – but she had a balance of US $238, 563 on her Diamond Trust Bank account.
For every deposit, Bagyenda received a certificate of deposit showing the interest the principal amount would attract, taxes incurred and net amount payable to her on maturity.
In March 2014, Bagyenda had made a fixed deposit of about Shs900 million which earned her a net interest of about Shs9.2 million
In November 2014, Bagyenda had another fixed deposit of Shs568 million which saw her realise a net interest of Shs5.7 million.
In January 2015, Bagyenda made another deposit of Shs 480,000,000 million setting a maturity date of one month. She earned Shs4.8 million in interest.
Bagyenda’s source of these staggering amounts of money remains unclear as the public awaits to see what the FIA and IGG investigations will reveal.