Uganda refunds stolen Irish aid money
Posted Tuesday, January 8 2013 at 11:23
The Uganda government has returned Euros 4 million (Shs14.2 billion) of Irish aid money which had been diverted without authorisation by personnel in the Office of the Prime Minister.
The money was part of the Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) that was allegedly diverted by staff in the OPM.
Reports say that Ireland has, however, announced that the suspension of its bilateral aid to Uganda will remain in place until officials are confident that controls have been put in place to prevent misappropriation of aid money from their country.
The Irish Times quotes the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore as saying that the restitution followed “intensive high-level discussions with the government of Uganda over the last two months.”
The money is said to have been refunded on January 07, 2013.
A team from the evaluation and audit unit of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs concluded that the fraud was “very sophisticated and well-thought-out” and involved a high level of collusion at senior level.
According to the audit findings, the fraud was conceived and carried out by personnel in collusion who had an intimate knowledge of systems within the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Prime Minister and Bank of Uganda.
The findings further indicate that the funds “were fraudulently transferred from the legitimate bank accounts into which the donors had properly deposited the money to fraudulent dormant accounts outside of the government system.” The audit adds that it was “impossible to know who the ultimate beneficiaries of the funds were”.
Gilmore said the 4 million Euros would be spent on health, education and HIV/Aids projects for which the aid was originally earmarked but it would not go through the government.
The Auditor General in October released a special audit report indicating that up to Shs50 billion was misappropriated by staff in the Prime Minister’s office. The misappropriated funds were intended for post-war recovery in Northern Uganda under the Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP).
Following the scam, Norway, Denmark and United Kingdom, among others donor countries suspended their aid to Uganda.