Two seek speedy probe on BoU-seized land titles

Thursday August 13 2020
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Bank of Uganda (BoU). FILE PHOTO

Two petitioners have asked government agencies to speed up investigations into a complaint in which Bank of Uganda (BoU) officials are accused of concealing land titles belonging to former clients of closed commercial banks.

Mr Sam Kakuru and Mr Nelson Habaasa petitioned the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) alleging that some top officials in Bank of Uganda are responsible for the seizure and disappearance of many land titles for former clients of closed commercial banks.

They cited former BoU Deputy governor Dr Louis Kasekende, former Executive director in charge of Commercial Banks supervision, Ms Justine Bagyenda and Director of Financial Markets Development, Mr Benedict Sekabira.

Addressing journalists in Kampala on Thursday, Mr Habaasa and his colleague said they are victims of the seized land titles. Habaasa said he lost property worth about Shs250m. He said the speedy handling of their case would bring hope to the affected persons and lay ground for them to recover their property.

“We want to see justice and equity in this matter. The public needs to know the fate of the numerous properties which were seized by the central bank while closing the banks because they are suffering silently from the bank closures,” he said.

Mr Habaasa appealed to the government agencies to prioritise the matter. He alleges that the more the case is delayed, the more perpetrators use the time to frustrate the process.

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However, CID spokesman Charles Twine said they had no case against Mr Kasekende and Ms Bagyenda. He said CID is only investigating Sekabira in regard to the seized land titles by Bank of Uganda.

“’We don’t have a complaint against Dr Kasekende and Ms Bagyenda. We are working to ensure the file is sanctioned and criminal summons are issued against Mr Sekabira,” he said. 

Ms Sekabira was the custodian of the seized land titles at Bank of Uganda when the commercial banks were closed by the central bank.

Mr Twine said they received eight complainants on Thursday seeking to recover their land titles. He said police are working to ensure justice for the complainants.

In an interview with Daily Monitor on Wednesday, the DPP spokesperson, Ms Jackie Okui said their office had not yet sanctioned any charge regarding BoU-seized land titles.

However, she said Sekabira’s case file had been submitted to police for further investigations.

“Thereafter, we received a complaint from former Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda, Mr Louis Kasekende contesting his involvement in the fraudulent transfer of certificates of title deposited in the defunct commercial banks. The DPP has now recalled the case file for re-perusal in light of the complaint,” Ms Okui said by telephone.

In a July 27 letter to the Bank of Uganda Governor, the CID said Mr Sekabira is being investigated after a recommendation of the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) which asked the Inspector General of Police to immediately investigate the matter of seized land titles.

According to the letter, Mr Sekabira is being investigated by CID for alleged fraudulent acts regarding the land titles belonging to clients of closed banks.

A report by the Auditor General earlier revealed that Bank of Uganda did not follow the lawful procedures in the closure of Crane Bank and six other commercial banks.

It is alleged that former BoU top officials conspired with the mysterious Nile River Acquisition Company as the company bought off secured debts of International Credit Bank (ICB), Greenland Bank, Cooperative Bank at Shs8.89 billion representing a 26 percent discount of the total secured loans.

Cosase report

In February 2019, the Parliamentary Committee (COSASE) presented its report on closure of seven banks in which the Bank of Uganda management was found largely culpable for breaching the law in closing the banks.

According to the parliamentary committee report findings, some of the breaches included closing and selling the banks on same day as was the case of National Bank of Commerce.

There were also cases of appointment of auditors after the sale and failure to compile inventory reports which meant that BoU was clueless about the value of the institutions that it had sold.

ekasozi@ug.nationmedia.com

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