Court finds Lwamafa, Obey, Kunsa guilty of fraud

Friday November 11 2016
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Mr Obey, Mr Kunsa and Mr Lwamafa at Anti Corruption Court recently. Photo by Dominic Bukenya

Anti Corruption Court in Kampala has found three former top employees of ministry of public service including Jimmy Lwamafa, the ex-permanent secretary guilty of all the ten charges slapped against them by the state.
Presiding judge, Lawrence Gidudu summarised in his ruling that the fraud to steal the Shs88.2 billion was hatched in the public service, smoothened in finance ministry and executed in Cairo bank where the money was finally paid out to ghost pensioners.

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Pension scam: Court assessors advise judge to acquit Lwamafa, Obey

Friday September 30 2016

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KAMPALA. Three top suspects in the multi-billion public service pension scandal could walk free in less than two months if Justice Lawrence Gidudu accepts the advice of court assessors.
On Friday morning, the assessors advised the head of Anti-Corruption Court to acquit the former permanent secretary in the public service ministry, Jimmy Lwamafa; Christopher Obey, former principal accountant and Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa, the former director research and development and other accused.
The three along with others are accused of perpetrating the loss of Shs88.2 billion.

Justice Gidudu has set November 11 for judgement on a matter which has running for the last one year.
The court assessors’ opinion is a lay man’s interpretation of a criminal matter, which though not binding, has on occasion indicated how a suit will be decided.
Mr Vincent Ferrer and Mr Stanley Kurung yesterday advised court that, in their opinion as assessors, the prosecution did not prove that the suspects caused government a financial loss.
Mr Ferrer read out the joint opinion in which they argued that evidence presented showed that the money in question was paid to commercial banks, in particular Cairo Bank. He wondered why the banks were never investigated.

He said that if the money was lost, then the fraud originated from the banks and that the three suspects were never linked to it.
The courts assessors observed that the head of the CID, Ms Grace Akullo, who unearthed the alleged fraud of Shs165 billion in the public service ministry, was never called to testify.
“In the ministry’s work plans, the item NSSF was not there and this confusion must have been introduced by Mr Josses Tegyeza onto the payment system as he had the mandate to ensure that there were no entry errors into the payment system...” Mr Ferrer said.

“It’s therefore clear to us that if at all there was any fraud, it originated from the Cairo Bank and it can’t be linked to the accused persons.”
“It’s therefore our opinion that the prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the ten charges against the suspects and I pray that you acquit them...”
The alleged crime took place over two financial years of 2010/11 and 2011/12 with the suspects alleged budgeting for NSSF contributions, well knowing that civil servants don’t contribute to the Fund.

The other information which the assessors relied on was the testimony of former acting permanent secretary in the public ministry Ms Adah Kabarokole Muwanga. Ms Muwanga testified that once there is a query in the payment schedules in a given financial year, then payment would not be effected the following financial year.
The assessors observed that since the finance ministry released money to public service in the following financial year of 2011/12, it then implied that there was no query in the first financial year of 2010/11.
The fate of the suspects, who are currently held at Luzira Prison, now lies in the hands of the judge.

awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com


Other convicts are Christopher Obey, the ex-principal accountant in the pensions department and Mr Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa, the ex-director research and development.

The three along with others are accused of perpetrating the loss of Shs88.2 billion.

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