OPM officials ‘connived with fuel dealers’
Posted Wednesday, February 6 2013 at 02:00
The inquiry into allegations of theft of money in the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday heard that officials connived with fuel dealers to siphon off nearly Shs9 billion.
New Caltex Ntinda Service Station in Kampala was reportedly paid Shs6.9 billion for fuel allegedly supplied within 22 days.
According to Dr Andrew Nsamba, who conducted the forensic audit on the money meant for northern Uganda recovery programme, the Shs144 million, which was indicated as spent by OPM officials daily, including on weekends, could fuel 48 trucks for a Kampala-Karamoja round trip.
The station’s proprietor was handed over to police to record a statement after he failed to submit original copies of documents through which he received payment.
Details before the committee indicate that on February 6, 2012, Shs576 million was paid to this station as a refund for fuel used on January 6 and 17 and December 5 and 16.
This payment was approved by Mr Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary, on the advice of Mr Martin Owor, the commissioner Disaster Preparedness, without any detail of the vehicles which consumed the fuel.
But committee lead counsel Maxwell Akora pointed out that no food was released for transportation from OPM stores on those dates.
“We are also disputing those documents, they are not ours and we have a case before court,” Mr Katumwa said. “I didn’t base on the documents you have, Mr Owor has the original documents and others were taken by police.”
A review of the station’s bank statements revealed that in many instances, funds deposited from OPM would be withdrawn in lump sum shortly thereafter.
In her statement to police, a manager of the station confessed that these funds would be retrieved by officials from OPM. The purported drivers from OPM, who allegedly took the fuel, also told police that their signatures were forged.
The Auditor General’s findings show that Shs.8.5 billion deposited in various fuel stations was not unaccounted for. Other suspicions surrounded fuel receipts from Total Ntinda 1 whose serial numbers followed each other despite having different dates.
Separately, Centenary Rural Development Bank officials also appeared before PAC to explain the expenditure of Shs1.4 billion sent to Account No.10030102531210 under the Kasimo project.
The bank’s chief executive, Mr Fabian Kasi, said the money was for Luweero veterans.
He said his bank received instructions from Mr Bigirimana and former Principal Accountant Geoffrey Kazinda to pay the beneficiaries through bank branches around the country.
To-date, the bank has received Shs26.6b from the OPM.
In a related development, Mr Zephaniah Labuuk, the managing director of Salgado Enterprises, one of the food suppliers, said he was overpaid by Shs352.3m, which money he returned to Mr Kazinda.