MTN boss Mbire calls police quizzing claims ‘fake news’

Sunday February 17 2019

The chairman of MTN Uganda, Mr Charles Mbire

The chairman of MTN Uganda, Mr Charles Mbire addresses a press conference at MTN offices in Kampala last year. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By ANTHONY WESAKA

The chairman of MTN Uganda, Mr Charles Mbire, has refuted reports that the police interrogated him over the ongoing security crackdown at the giant telecommunications company.
The crisis at MTN Uganda has seen several top staff including the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Wim Vanhelleputte, arrested and deported to their respective countries over matters concerning national security.

Speaking through his lawyers, Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), Mr Mbire dismissed claims published in a government newspaper, the Saturday Vision as “fake news” and explained the article claiming that he was quizzed by security was written in bad faith.

“Mr Mbire has not been quizzed by security agencies as has been reported by Saturday Vision dated February 16, 2019… as a law abiding citizen he is always available to help security agencies keep peace and security in our motherland,” a statement from KAA lawyers reads in part.
The statement was released on Friday evening.
“We would like to categorically state that the allegations in the article are false and baseless in their entirety. Our client has not been called in to the Criminal Investigations Department or Internal Security Organisation (ISO) or any other authority at all.”

In the story, it was alleged that Mr Mbire had been quizzed over alleged espionage by the company staff. The alleged questioning of Mr Mbire as stated by the Saturday Vision, came barely a day after the deportation of Mr Vanhelleputte to Belgium, his country of origin over alleged involvement in activities that jeopardise the country’s security.
MTN Uganda has since replaced Mr Vanhelleputte with Mr Gordian Kyomukama, the chief technology officer, to hold forte as acting CEO. However, on Thursday evening police authorities, without delving into the details explained that investigations were still continuing.

Last month, the crackdown saw three other top staff deported to Rwanda, France and Italy. They included Oliver Alexander Benoit Prentout, a French national, who was working as the chief marketing officer; Ms Anne Bilenge Tabura, a Rwandan national who was the head of sales and distribution and Mr Elsa Mussolini, the former mobile money general manager.

awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com

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