IGG: Katosi money was hidden in the US

The Inspector General of Government Justice Irene Mulyagonja has revealed that her office is tracing the Shs 24.7 billion stolen from the Katosi road project and trying to recover it from the USA.

Mulyagonja told reporters at the closure of the five-day commonwealth anti-corruption heads of agencies in Africa meeting at Lake Victoria Serena Resort and Spa Kigo in Wakiso district on Friday evening that her office was aware part of the money was shipped to the USA.

“In Uganda, we know some monies that have been taken out of the country, one case is the Shs 24 billion which was stolen from the Katosi road construction, we know that part of it was taken to the United States of America; we are trying to trace it and see whether we can recover it,” Mulyagonja said.

Last August, Former works minister Abraham Byandala, who was among those accused of abuse of Katosi money, was acquitted by the Anti-Corruption Court of all charges.

Instead, businessman Apollo Ssenketo was found guilty of theft and then convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison.

Ssenketo had represented a company called Eutaw Construction, a US firm that turned out to be fake, and had been contracted to construct the road in 2014.

Through the collaboration with the commonwealth partners, Uganda has managed to recover $217000 (Shs 819 million) since 2016 that had been taken out of the country by thieves, according to Patricia Scotland, the secretary general of the secretariat.

The IGG said it was hard to recover some of the money because of the way thieves push to hide it in complicated structures in tax havens.

“When thieves steal from our countries, and mostly from transactions of government, they do not necessarily keep the funds on the continent, what they do is they repatriate funds and take them to places we know to be safe havens and places where we know international finance is known to be very profitable they invest them there, they can invest in assets that are underground or keep the money in banks,” Mulyagonja said.

On the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s claim that the Inspectorate of Government (IG) had been infiltrated by wrong elements and therefore why he appointed the state house anti-corruption unit, an official in the IGG’s office, who preferred not to be named, told URN it is not true and they prefer state house to give them information on this matter.

The official said “as the IG, we say give us information and we clean it if you insist we have been infiltrated.”

In their communique, the heads of anti-corruption agencies in Africa called for multi-agency team work in implementation of anti-corruption strategies.

They also requested governments in Europe, America and other jurisdictions to work towards speedy repatriation of recovered assets to African countries.

Corruptions usually take their loot to the global north where they hide in banks or buying properties.