By Our Reporter
Aruu County Member of Parliament, Samuel Odonga Otto has castigated the Inspector General of Government (IGG) Irene Mulyagonja for ordering Internal Security Organisation (ISO) Director Col.Kaka Bagyenda to investigate him and three other MPs who were on Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) as it probed Bank of Uganda over the controversial sale of seven commercial banks.
IGG Irene Mulyagonja in her latest letter asked ISO particularly to investigate the former chairperson of COSASE committee Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County) for allegedly soliciting bribes during the recent probe into the irregular sale of commercial banks.
The directive by the IGG is based on a complaint from an undisclosed person(s), though Spy Uganda has learnt from separate sources it’s by one of BoU officials, that Katuntu, the former COSASE Chairman, his deputy Anita Among, Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa and Aruu North MP Odonga Otto regularly met former Crane bank biggest shareholder Sudhir Ruparelia during the course of the bank probe.
However, in a very tough tone, when contacted for a comment, Hon.Otto, one of the vocal MPs during the probe of BoU officials, tasking them to explain how they could lose key documents related to sale of banks and their assets said, he didn’t care whether he was investigated or not but was worried on the extent on how mafias have taken over the country. “I don’t care who is to investigate me; ISO, CMI, IGG, police, Arrow Boys or Flying Squad, what I care about is how the mafias are seemingly taking over the country that the IGG is now no more interested in investigating thieves but those investigating the thieves,” he said.
Otto was one of the vocal MPs during the probe of BoU officials, tasking them to explain how they could lose key documents related to sale of banks and their assets.
It is alleged that the said Otto and other committee members received cash payments from Ruparelia and his son Rajiv Ruparelia which is suspected to be the real reason they refused to yield the leadership of COSASE when their term ended, according to the letter by the IGG.
The ‘whistle blower’ accuses Katuntu of receiving a bribe of Shs400 million from BoU Governor Prof.Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, to allegedly enable the same committee to carry out a benchmarking exercise. But, according to the whistle blower that money was not declared by Katuntu neither was it accounted for.
The whiter also alleged that the compromising bribe was one of the reasons why the governor was allegedly allowed to pretend that he knew nothing about the closed banks and was never put on oath and was not clearly examined like other Bank of Uganda officials.
The request for investigations into COSASE members was confirmed by the speaker Rebecca Kadaga after receiving a copy of the letter which is addressed to the Director General of ISO, Col Kaka Bagyenda.
Padyere County MP Joshua Anywarach had earlier demanded that the prime minister pronounces himself on the letter which he said was deliberately meant to tone down the report on the irregular sale and closure of commercial banks. Katuntu is also being investigated for his interests in the defunct Global Trust bank.
“Hon Abdul Katuntu was one of the debtors of Global Trust bank at the time when the bank was closed on 25th July 2012. He owed the bank approximately Shs 180,000,000, a matter he did not declare yet the debts were amongst the causes of the bank’s collapse,” further reads IGG’s letter.
Mulyagonja concludes that her office decided that ISO is in a better position to investigate the allegations. She requested Col Bagyenda to file a copy of a report of their findings and action taken on the conclusion of the investigation.
Meanwhile, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who received the letter protested, saying that it violated the doctrine of separation of powers.
“I will give it to the Prime Minister but this is really a breach of a separation of powers,” she said.
The doctrine of separation of powers essentially means that in the course of doing their work, the three organs of government: legislature, judiciary and executive, must not interfere in the affairs of others.
COSASE, last year started investigations into the sale and closure of seven banks including; Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), The Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and Crane Bank Ltd (CBL) that was sold to dfcu in 2016, and the report was handed over last week to the speaker of parliament.
However, in a February 19 2019 letter to the Director General ISO, the IGG says her office received a complaint of allegations of misconduct by members of the committee while carrying out their probe into the sale of the seven banks.
Spy Uganda has now learnt that the complaint was actually lodged by some senior officials from BoU and has already been interpreted by many pundits as a continuation of the same abrasive fight between BoU officials and the probe committee of parliament.
Although the letter claims that Katuntu and Among are close associates of Dr Sudhir Ruparelia, who was the majority shareholder of Crane Bank which was sold to DFCU, It doesn’t mention whether or how this relationship influenced the findings of the committee which questioned the manner in which the bank was sold.
In her letter, the IGG claims that some legislators and members on COSASE committee received cash, prompting them to refuse to handover office despite expiry of their term of office.
The IGG’s letter also claims that the Bank of Uganda governor, Tumusiime Mutebile authorised payment of Shs400 million to Katuntu to enable COSASE carryout a bench-marking exercise with other central banks.
“The money was not declared by Katuntu and neither was it accounted for .This is one of the reasons the governor was allowed to pretend that he knew nothing about any closed banks, was never put on oath and not closely examined like other central bank officials,” the IGG noted.
The IGG said her office has decided to ask ISO to investigate the allegations because they are in a better position to do so.
The latest development comes at a time when the August House has started debating the Cosase report that faulted Bank of Uganda on flouting procedures while selling the said banks.