Bagyenda: I left BOU, ask the current officers

Nine months after she was controversially forced out of Bank of Uganda, Justine Bagyenda, the former Executive Director in charge of Commercial Banks Supervision at Bank of Uganda cannot recall the key decisions she took when she still held the position.

Bagyenda appeared before MPs on the committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and state Enterprises (COSASE) as a witness in the ongoing investigation into the alleged irregular closure of seven commercial banks.

As the hearing got underway, Bagyenda told the committee that since her departure from the Central Bank at the beginning of the year, she has not been in possession of any documents regarding the banks in question and thus could not ably respond appropriately to the questions from the MPs.

She advised the committee to refer all the issues that she was expected to answer to the current team at BOU.

This was after the committee vice chairperson Anita Among (Bukedea Woman) asked her to explain how Bank of Uganda reached a decision of selling loans of International Credit Bank, Greenland Bank and Cooperative Bank which were worth about Shs 135 billion at a discount of 80%.

The Bukedea Woman MP also demanded for answers as to why the original price for the loan portfolio was reduced from $10 million to$5.2 million, the amount that was paid by Nile River Acquisition Company.

To the shock of the MPs, Bagyenda instead of giving answers retorted; “Through my recollection, I stated that I retired from the services of the Central Bank and therefore, I don’t have any documentation in my custody to allow me to answer all these questions because this Committee is evidence based. All I can say is that all questions that have been asked are really well documented in the files that I left behind in the Bank.”

This attracted the ire of MPs with Aruu MP Odonga Otto suggesting that the committee needed to get tough on some witnesses other than leaving them at liberty of choosing which questions to answer and which ones not to answer.

“We need to harden here, the big fish is in the house, these are the people who cause problems to the young people,” Otto said.

Committee Chairperson, Abdu Katuntu chipped in, warning Bagyenda against being evasive. Katuntu also ordered her to sit close to her former colleagues at BOU so that she could provide solid responses to the queries.

The committee also heard that during the liquidation process, Bank of Uganda side stepped the Ugandan law and opted to apply the British law which was in the interest of the buyers.

The Central Bank’s legal counsel Margaret Kaggwa told the Committee that the British law was applied after Nile River Acquisition Company demanded to have the agreement executed based on UK laws which were only to apply in case of any disputes but not on debt collections.