The government has closed a foreign exchange bureau in Kampala on suspicion that it facilitated the transfer of a huge amount of money to renegade General David Sejusa aka Tinyefuza.
Pakasa Forex in Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb, was closed after security reportedly asked Bank of Uganda (BoU) to investigate a “suspicious” transaction. We could not verify the exact amount of money involved but our sources claimed it was about $8m (about Shs20 billion).
Sunday Monitor investigation established that about a month ago, a female relative of Gen Sejusa, delivered about Shs20 billion in cash and reportedly received an equivalent in dollars from the bureau. After receiving the dollars, the relative, who is a businesswoman, reportedly carried the dollars and passed through the VIP lounge at Entebbe International Airport on the way to London where Gen Sejusa has been living since May.
Gen Sejusa was coordinator of intelligence services before he left the country in April and has not returned since a controversial letter he sent to intelligence chiefs leaked to the media. It is not clear how the money was mobilised. But sources say it was raised by the renegade General’s local network.
Apparently, some elements within the security are believed to have facilitated the move to take the money out of Uganda. Sunday Monitor also learnt that the authorities only learnt of the transaction when the General’s relative, who carried the money, was already airborne with the dollars.
Speaking confidentially, sources said there was an elaborate plan that included some international security and political actors that aided the transfer of the money to sidestep the rigorous international anti-money laundering checks that have been tightened as part of the fight against international terrorism. That is perhaps how the money passed through other airports. Pakasa Forex fell into trouble after the central bank invoked rules and regulations about declaration of the source of dollars in excess of 5,000.
The owner of the bureau, who is also said to be related to Gen Sejusa through his wife, is reportedly distressed after his pleas to Bank of Uganda to reopen his business failed. The man reportedly opened his business after stints in war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan working as a guard.
When Sunday Monitor contacted BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile on Friday to explain the closure of Pakasa Forex, he said: “I am sorry I am not able to tell you. I cannot say anything about that; I am in Mauritius.”
Nudged further on the money allegedly sent to Gen Sejusa, he said: “I cannot confirm anything you are talking.”
While the courier woman returned home, and was never arrested because there was no clear-cut evidence against her, the transaction reportedly provoked a big shakeup in the intelligence and military deployments. Several members of Gen Sejusa’s family are reportedly under constant security surveillance.
Army spokesman Paddy Ankunda however, expressed surprise when contacted for a comment about the closure of the forex bureau and the alleged surveillance ring around the General’s relatives. “That sounds like news to me. I haven’t heard about that. Which forex bureau is that? Let me find out just in case our intelligence has it, then I will share with you. Have the owners raised hell about it?” he inquired.
He had not gotten back to us by the time we went to press.
Road to exile
Sunday Monitor has also learnt that Gen Sejusa left the country to avoid an imminent arrest. According to sources, the Coordinator of intelligence services, using his position, had widely mobilised against the government. He had reportedly mobilised army deserters and veterans and some senior UPDF officers with a mission to cause regime change.
Gen Sejusa’s mobilisation reportedly was boosted by the monthly facilitation of Shs150 million which his office used to receive directly from the Ministry of Finance under classified expenditure. Apparently, under the cover of intelligence coordination, the General would reportedly pay the veterans a monthly stipend.
Military sources said Gen Sejusa was able to mobilise silently because while he is reportedly poor at civilian relations, he is said to be good in relating with soldiers. They compare his military relations with that of Gen Salim Saleh, President Museveni’s younger brother who many soldiers regard as amiable.
How the plan leaked
Sources said veterans in Bulemezi, Luweero District leaked the plan to President Museveni. The elderly veterans, who are reportedly known to both President Museveni and Gen Sejusa, sought audience with the President and confided in him that his bush war colleague had developed “other ideas”.
By this time, sources said Gen Sejusa had made inroads in Luweero and moved on to handle veterans in Bushenyi and surrounding districts. After getting the brief from Bulemezi veterans, President Museveni reportedly tasked the police chief Gen Kale Kayihura and other intelligence chiefs to follow up the matter.
At this point, the Shs150m Gen Sejusa’s office received monthly was frozen and part of it given to Gen Kayihura for operations. President Museveni reportedly stopped receiving calls from Sejusa and tasked Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba to review all intelligence reports forwarded by the General.
Gen Sejusa also picked up intelligence that his schemes had been bust. This, according to sources, prompted him to write a letter to the Director General of Internal Security Organisation (ISO), Ronnie Balya, asking him to investigate information that there was a plan to assassinate people perceived to be opposed to a ‘Muhoozi Project’, an alleged scheme by President Museveni to have his son, Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba, succeed him.
Sensing that the plan to arrest him was still on the cards, Gen Sejusa, who is also an army legislator, then wrote to the Speaker of Parliament asking for leave of office. He timed his journey soon after attending the wedding of Prince David Wasajja on April 27. The army last week announced that Gen Sejusa would be charged with treason upon return.
Lt Col Ankunda told the press on Tuesday that the General’s claims of an alleged plot to assassinate senior government officials (including Sejusa) thought to be opposed to “the Muhoozi Project are treasonable. “One of the possible charges is desertion if Parliament doesn’t give him more leave. Secondly, will be failure to protect classified documents and others will follow,” Lt Col Ankunda said, adding: “We have heard that he has asked Parliament to extend his leave. We will see if Parliament will allow extension of his leave. In fact, it will be erroneous to extend leave of a person who has already declared to fight a legitimate government.”