KAMPALA: Top officials of Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) are up in arms against the Bank of Uganda (BoU), accusing the latter of dragging the national tax collectors into logistical contractual failures and mistakes of the central bank and their service provider in Germany as Shs90 billion disappeared into private pockets of BoU officials.
Yesterday, Lt Col. Edith Nakalema, the head of State House Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) confirmed that top BoU officials, as well as personnel attached to URA and Civil Aviation Authority were under investigations for serious economic violations. BoU Governor Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile also confirmed that his institution was under investigation over the scam.
“A number of senior bank personnel, customs and Civil Authority personnel are being questioned” with regard to the Bank’s procurement and supply chain activities,” Nakalema said in a statement.
Reports indicate that eight directors at BoU are under investigation by police, military and State House Anti-Corruption Unit for illegally printing and smuggling money in the excess of Sh90 billion.
Nakalema’s team alongside investigators from the CID are probing the money that entered Uganda but did enter BoU safes after leaving Entebbe International Airport from France aboard a private airplane which usually transports BoU’s new currency.
However, the URA Commissioner Customs Dickson Kateshumbwa has said even though some of their officials are under probe, they did nothing wrong as far as the clearing process of the consignment is concerned.
In his statement issued on Saturday, Kateshumbwa revealed that the Customs staff followed the procedures to the dot and they can account for the cargo cleared fully.
“URA has provided the details of the information required by the investigators and we are available to offer any clarification if required,” he said.
“In April this year, URA Entebbe Customs was informed by BOU of an impending import of Currency and requested to facilitate quick clearance. A private chartered plane arrived and as normal practice for sensitive cargo Customs facilitated clearance of the currency at the tarmac in presence of BOU Officials, BOU Security, Aviation Security, Police and other security agencies. The consignment was offloaded, inspected and loaded on BOU vehicles and taken to KAMPALA under heavy security escort,” he said in the statement.
He said the same plane contained other cargo which belonged to various individuals / companies / organizations. “As per normal customs clearance procedure, this cargo was offloaded into the licensed bonds at the airport and subsequently the owners made customs declarations, paid applicable taxes and Customs physically verified each consignment to ascertain accuracy and consistency with the declaration and released the goods to the owners,” he said.
He said each of the consignments had its individual airway bill. Customs was not party to the airline charter arrangements between BOU, the airline and the other owners of the goods.
“It is not the responsibility of Customs to concern itself in logistical arrangements of importers or exporters. Our duty is to ensure that imported cargo through the airport is received and tallied with the cargo manifest, verified and is cleared in line with the Customs Laws as established under the East African Customs Management Act (EACCMA),” he said.
“In this particular consignment like all others, our Customs staff followed the procedures to the dot and we can account for the cargo cleared fully.”
URA has provided the details of the information required by the investigators and we are available to offer any clarification if required.