Bagyenda skips parliamentary vetting

Embattled former Bank of Uganda executive director in-charge of supervision Justine Bagyenda was a no show as Parliament’s appointments committee begun vetting the newly appointed board members of the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA).

Bagyenda was reappointed to the authority by Finance, Planning and Economic Development minister Matia Kasaija months after she had been ousted from the Central Bank over issues related to financial misconduct.

When news went out that she was scheduled to appear before the appointments committee – a Parliamentary committee charged with the vetting senior government appointments, MPs under the African Parliament network against corruption (APNAC) mobilized to block her re-appointment.

The MPs argued that Bagyenda did not meet the standards set under Section 25(1)(b) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2013 that requires for the appointment of four members of high moral character and proven integrity with substantial experience in either law, finance, criminal investigations, or any other relevant experience.

To the MPs, Bagyenda, given the cases of alleged money laundering hanging around her neck, is unfit to serve on the FIA.

“For how long does the Ministry of Finance plan on misleading us? That man [Matia Kasaija] has misled us, and he later comes out saying it is MPs with a problem. Soon, he will be coming here to say that in the letter he wrote to the Speaker, Bagyenda’s name wasn’t there,” Kasambya MP Mbwatekamwa Gaffa said.

Mbwatekamwa was with Ngora County’s David Abala who called for Bagyenda’s name to be deleted from the list of the appointees.

“Don’t even waste your time [coming], just write and inform them that don’t even waste your time to come,” Abala sent an advisory to Bagyenda.

Bagyenda’s was re-appointment at the time when the Inspector General of Government (IGG) Irene Mulyagonja was conducting investigations into Bagyenda’s wealth after questions rose how she accumulated over amounting to Shs 20bn.

Early this year, Bagyenda’s transaction records leaked that detailed how she accumulated Shs 20bn within six years with most of her bank accounts reflecting a zero balance and disclosed sources of funds.

In September 2017, Bagyenda’s account in Diamond Trust Bank had only Shs 48,000 in Diamond Trust Bank, yet the same account had received Shs 10bn between February 2014 and September 2017.

Her dollar account also reflected a zero balance as of October 2017 yet there was $1m about Shs 3.5bn deposited on it from January 2014 to October 2017.

The leaked documents further revealed that on January 20, 2014, she received $20,000 from her Standard Chartered Bank account and another $30,000 from an undisclosed source on August 5, 2015 to the same account.

Most of the money from the undisclosed sources went to her fixed deposit account in DTB after landing her savings account.

As per December 2017, Bagyenda had $214,149 (Shs 781m) on her dollar account and Shs 436m on her shilling account in DTB.

Bagyenda is also said to have had Shs 2.4bn on her GT Bank account with some of that money paid to a prominent law firm, with the firm having received Shs 850m in lumpsums between March and September 2017 ranging from Shs 350m and Shs 100m at a single transaction.

Her re-appointment was announced in a May 7 letter by Kasaija to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga nominating members of the FIA.

In the same letter, Kasaija also appointed Leo Kibirango as chairperson, the deputy secretary to the treasury, Patrick Ocailap, Patricia Mutesi and Grace Akullo (CIID Director).