Kampala woman accused of swindling Shs49m from online lending firm

Esther Linda Nigiwan is accused of swindling nearly Shs50m from a digital money lending comoany in Uganda. PHOTO/JULIET KIGONGO

What you need to know:

  • One of Nigiwan’s friends, Bridget Purity, also revealed to detectives that the accused told her to get numbers of people to whom the money would be sent to.

A finance officer in an online digital lending company has been accused of swindling over Shs49 Million from her employer.

While testifying before the Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court on Tuesday, Henry Isaiah Katongole, the managing director of Ryra Investment, revealed that Esther Linda Nigiwan fraudulently created fictitious accounts through which over Shs49.9m from the company’s repay system was wired to 30 mobile money numbers between July and December 2020.

The court heard that Nigiwan, who is facing two charges of electronic fraud and receiving stolen property, would make payments to unverified and unapproved mobile money numbers and later demanded the same from the recipients for a cut.

Katongole told court that among the duties of Nigiwan who the company’s former consultant was and also doubled as the general manager financial services was managing the sales, marketing and services customer team, recruiting the sales, overseeing the day-to-day operations for customer acquisition, verification and approval.

She was also in charge of overseeing and authorizing the release of loans to the verified customer mobile money numbers. Additionally, Nigiwan was also mandated to report weekly loan release and payment reports to the managing director.

“With the Know Your Customer (KYC) which has client's information, Nigiwan went and changed the validated mobile money numbers in the system and initiated fraud numbers she had replaced,” Katongole submitted in court.

“I must have approved some of these transactions for the period of July 1, 2020 to October 30, 2020 when I terminated her contract after finding specifically 139 transactions that had facilitated the loss of funds of over Shs49m. Unfortunately, even after we had terminated her contract and changed the passwords of the authorization accounts, the company still kept losing money to fraudulent numbers,” he added.

Court heard that Nigiwan got Katongole’s password but also managed to make transactions as proven by the police forensic report which indicated that she was in touch with recipients of the fraudulent monies.

It was further revealed that Nigiwan’s telephone number was among those that were receiving the money with her first time being on October 9, 2020 which was the Independence public holiday. Ryra Investment said it does not work on public holidays and weekends.

“I reported the case to Kinawataka police station that summoned her and upon reaching the police, she said that she had received some money on her line but did not know where it was coming from. The money was withdrawn and handed back to me,” Katongole told the court.

One of Nigiwan’s friends, Bridget Purity, also revealed to detectives at Kibuli CID that the accused told her to get numbers of people to whom the money would be sent to.

Prosecution states that  Nigiwan and others still at large between July and December 2020 in Kampala District or thereabout with intent to secure unlawful gain deliberately transferred, received and retained over Shs49million knowing or having reason to believe the said was feloniously obtained from Ryra Investment's repay system to thirty mobile money numbers.

The trial Grade One Magistrate Caroline Kyoshabire further remanded Nigiwan until August 10 for cross examination of Katongole and hearing of her bail application.