Forgeries, more rot found in OPM scam
Posted Monday, January 21 2013 at 02:45
Other People’s Money. Police interrogate PS Pius Bigirimana; warn that thefts could be twice more than the Shs15.7 billion earlier reported after visit to field.
Detectives investigating widespread theft in the Office of the Prime Minister have discovered forged documents and work plans after visiting projects where the money was allegedly spent.
Investigators say they have failed to find evidence of various workshops and activities for which the money was paid out.
Some of the suspect activities include purchase of fuel from non-existent service stations and media programmes that never took place.
The detectives visited West Nile, Karamoja, Bugisu, Teso and Acholi sub-regions where the OPM funds under the Peace Recovery and Development Plan [PRDP] for northern Uganda were supposed to be spent.
A police source that was part of the field team told the Daily Monitor that the amount of money stolen is likely to be revised from Shs15.7 billion to Shs35 billion.
This is the second verification tour by the detectives in the regions where the PRDP was implemented.
Police are investigating suspected misappropriation of donor funds meant for the northern region that led to the suspension or withholding of around Shs600 billion in aid and grants.
One of the projects under investigation is the Shs13 billion paid out to Farm Engineering and Industries Limited to plough farmland in Karamoja and Teso.
It is not clear how many acres of land were ploughed.
A lot of the money was paid out without work plans and into private accounts of OPM officials in violation of government financial policy.
Police teams that visited the northern region also found out that many workshops, which the officials claimed to have spent money on, were not held.
Detectives interviewed people whom the OPM officials said attended the workshops but most of them denied doing so.
Officials at some hotels where OPM officials claimed to have held workshops told detectives they didn’t have workshops on the stated days.
Ms Grace Akullo, the director Criminal Investigations and Intelligence, confirmed that the detectives who visited the northern region have reported back.
“We are now analysing the documents and receipts that are suspected to be forged. Some fuel stations from which officials claim to have bought fuel from non-existent,” Ms Akullo said.