Court acquits four former top Post Bank bosses
What you need to know:
- In 2020 the Edith Nakalema-led State House Anti-Corruption Unit arrested top bosses at Post Bank before they were charged in the Kololo-based Anti-Corruption Court over irregular payments to Compulynx of Shs3.7b
- One of the accused, Safina Wabuna, the former Post Bank executive director of operations and ICT, died on January 27, 2022, more than a year before the acquittal
The Anti-Corruption Court has acquitted four former bosses of Post Bank over abuse of office, corruption and causing financial loss to government.
The four, including Mr Stephen Mukweli, the then Post Bank managing director, Mr David Mwesige, the then head of information technology, Mr Jackson Mwesigwa, the then general manager finance and Mr Emmanuel Mwaka, the then banking officer, were acquitted due to the State’s failure to prove its case on the account of presenting written and cross examination witness accounts that were inconsistent.
Safina Wabuna, the former Post Bank executive director of operations and ICT, who was the other accused, court documents indicate, died on January 27, 2022, more than a year before the acquittal.
In 2020 the Edith Nakalema-led State House Anti-Corruption Unit arrested top bosses at Post Bank before they were charged in the Kololo-based Anti-Corruption Court in 2020.
They were charged with making irregular payments to Compulynx, which had been contracted to supply a Shs5.7b e-banking suite.
Prosecution had accused the four of separately sanctioning two payments of Shs2.8b and Shs848.4m (a combined sum of Shs3.7b) to Compulynx in 2017 against contract terms and conditions.
This, prosecution had argued, was prejudicial to the government - their employer - and amounted to abuse of authority.
It had been alleged that the accused had connived and directed a 50 percent payment for the e-banking suit, which was in violation of the payment structure in the October 2017 contract.
Prosecution, represented by Mr Stanley Moses Baine and Mr James Khaukha from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, had presented seven witnesses, majority of whom had claimed that by paying 50 percent of the contract sum, the accused had gone against the payment schedule, which indicated that 30 percent of the total sum would be paid as an advance upon signing the contract, while 50 percent would be paid after completion and testing of the know you customer biometrics and e-voucher modules.
The schedule also indicated that 90 percent would be paid after certifying system stability while 100 percent would be paid three months after certifying system stability.
However, in a February 27 ruling, Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga, noted that prosecution had failed to prove its case to the requisite standard, given that while some State witnesses had indicated that the payment could have been irregular, they had at the same time offered evidence that indicated that the ingredients of the 50 percent payment had been met.
For instance, court documents indicate, Justice Kajuga had found that the customer biometrics registration and withdrawal process, which involved reading the fingerprints of customers and matching them with the system, had been tested and used in some instance, before it was passed.
Therefore, she ruled: “I am inclined to disbelieve prosecution evidence that [know your customer or biometrics] was not passed or signed off when [50 percent] was paid. There is no evidence to the contrary from prosecution that a separate sign-off … was required.”
Therefore, she noted, the State had thus failed to prove the irregularity of the payment, which was the ground on which the entire case stood.
“It is the law that if … there is a reasonable doubt created … then prosecution has not made out the case and the prisoner is entitled to an acquittal. I was advised by the assessors to acquit all the accused … in their view prosecution had failed to prove the case to the requisite standard. I agree with them and accordingly acquit all the accused of the offence of abuse of office. They are accordingly set free unless held on other charges,” Justice Kajuga ruled.
Justice Kajuga also ruled that the accused had not acted prejudicial to their employer – government – since prosecution had failed to prove that there was a loss resulting from the alleged irregular payments.
“From the evidence … it is clear that indeed no prejudice was suffered by the bank or any other person by the acts of the accused. In my considered view it would be different if for example even after making the payments the system was demonstrated as not functioning and there was no value for money. Accordingly, prosecution has not led sufficient evidence to prove the ingredient of prejudice beyond reasonable doubt,” she ruled.