KAMPALA: The Members of Parliament (MPs) have condemned the recent report presented by the former parliament’s Committee on Commissions, State Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), saying the Chairperson Abdu Katuntu who handed over office on Monday should have named and called for the arrest of Bank of Uganda (BoU) top officials who were responsible for the closure of the seven banks between 1993 and 2016.
The MPs want BoU officials including Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, his deputy Dr Louis Kasekende and former executive director bank supervision Justine Bagyenda, be arrested for negligence of duty as well as corruption arising out of the fact that billions of shillings remain an accounted for in transaction of some banks.
The COSASE report was is a result of the probe against BoU based on the Auditor General report in August 2018, which said officials closed banks without following guidelines in the Financial Institutions Act as well as failing to produce reports and minutes of closure banks among other documents.
The MPs were on Tuesday afternoon debating the report of COSASE on the special audit report of the Auditor General on defunct banks such as Teefe Trust Bank, Greenland Bank, International Credit Bank, Cooperative Bank, National Bank of Commerce, Global Trust Bank and Crane Bank Limited (CBL).
The MPs agreed that BoU officials who are culpable in the closure of the banks should be immediately investigated by the Inspector General of Government and other agencies so that they are punished for their commissions and omissions. They said BoU officials acted with dishonest, deceit and corruption and for that they must face dire consequences of their actions.
Busongora North MP William Nzoghu castigated MP Katuntu and the former committee members for failing to mention the names of BoU officials responsible for the mess in the closure of banks. “Personalities should have been mentioned. Titles are constant, but individuals change,” he said.
“What was the basis of the closure of the banks if the evaluation of the assets and liabilities of the banks was not done? Asked MP Denis Armstrong Obua. In 23 years, seven banks were closed without any reports. Obua said names of Justine Bagyenda Kasekende (deputy governor), Margaret Kasule (Legal counsel) and Ben Sekabira (Director Financial Markets Development Coordination) featured prominently from day one of the probe that started in October, 2018 and therefore should have been mentioned in the report.
MP David Abala wondered why COSASE MPs interrogated BoU so satisfactorily but could provide appropriate recommendations. “People who were responsible for closure of banks must be named. “The disease was identified but when it came to prescription, it was not done well,” Abala said.
Abala also said MMKAS Advocates who earned about Shs4.2 billion should be banned from representing central bank and other government institutions due the conflict of interest.
MP Mbwa Tekamwa said the BoU board should also be fired immediately and investigations opened against the members for incompetence. The board is led by BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile as chairperson and Kasekende as Vice Chairperson.
He said Investors who lost their money as the banks were closed should be compensated including Sudhir Ruparelia, the former shareholder in Crane Bank Limited. During the probe, shareholders of defunct banks asked for compensation, each in hundreds of billions of shillings.
“Those who did not follow rules and regulations in the closure of banks should be held responsible,” he said.
On the other hand Manjiya County MP John Baptist Nambeshe on the other hand called for tougher actions against BoU officials involved in the saga but at the same time lauded Sudhir Ruparelia for exposing BoU in the public, a move he said, has exposed the rot in BoU.
Nambeshe also said the Finance Minister conceded BoU closed banks without following guidelines and that officials have never given him any reports on the closure banks.
Lutseshe County MP Godfrey Watenga Nabutanyi on his part said something must have happened as COSASE Mps compiled the report. He said during the probe the members performed well but disappointed the country on the submission of the report that does not call for serious punishments against BoU officials.
Article 169 of the Constitution of Uganda holds BoU officials in the closure of banks-MP Mohammed Nsereko as they were irregularities, lapses in security, no evaluation of reports among other issues like lack of division of labour. Nsereko said all officials involve in the closure banks as well as those manning security should be brought to book.
Other MPs who spoke on the report said more tough recommendations must be taken against individual BoU officials who participated in the closure of banks and that they said, must include retired ones like Justine Bagyenda and Edward Katimbo Mugwanya who was a statutory manager of CBL.