Suspects in Shs600m UPPC deal wiretapped

Thursday September 02 2021
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Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation offices in Entebbe. PHOTO/ FILE

By Benson Tumusiime

Detectives at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) headquarters at Kibuli, Kampala on Tuesday intercepted and recovered Shs600m from a government office, which they said was to be paid to a senior of the Electoral Commission.

A senior investigator familiar with the case told this newspaper that Presidency Minister, Ms Milly Babalanda, asked police to inquire into the activities at Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) following allegations of fraud and embezzlement.

“[A] whistle blower from the Electoral Commission (EC) wrote a complaint to the minister for Presidency and the minister forwarded it to CID headquarters with instructions to investigate the allegations of fraud,” the source said, asking not to be named.

Our investigations show that UPPC in the 2020/2021 Financial Year received Shs9 billion from EC for gazetting the roadmap of the elections held in January, this year, as well as the winners countrywide.

Detectives are investigating allegations that senior officials of UPPC approached a third party whom they reportedly asked to allow them use his bank account to transfer and withdraw the money in exchange for Shs5 million token.

In the event that the withdrawal of the large sums of money, which was done in instalments and rapid succession raised suspicion, the account holder was coached to answer he was a commission agent.

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He allegedly handed over the withdrawn cash to top UPPC officials whose name we are withholding for legal reasons.

Mr Charles Twine, the CID spokesperson, confirmed that the ongoing inquiries which disclosed targets “seven officials from Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation … on cases related to embezzlement, causing financial loss, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud …”

The individual who received the money on his bank account and withdrew has since recorded a statement at police, admitted and explained that he gave back the money to UPPC officials, he said.

Mr Twine said a top UPPC official during questioned admitted culpability to detectives and revealed information on how and with whom they shared the money.

On the other side of the case, according to police, is a senior EC official who, when called to pick the Shs600m money suspected to be a kickback for handing the Shs3b gazetting deal to UPPC, sent an emissary instead.
Another investigator said they wiretapped communication on the whereabouts of the Shs600m upon which they raided the offices of UPPC on Airport Road in Entebbe to it.

Presidency Minister Babalanda yesterday said she does not have powers to investigate fraud and corruption cases, which is why she referred the inquiries to police, but that she had interdicted implicated UPPC officials.

“Three of the people I interdicted have accepted their mistakes and are ready to return the money and come back to office to work, which I have accepted,” she said.

The minister, however, declined to disclose identities of the trio.
No UPPC staff has been dismissed and the suspensions were to pave way for investigations, Ms Babalanda noted.

On the probe
Presidency Minister Babalanda yesterday said she does not have powers to investigate fraud and corruption cases, which is why she referred the inquiries to police, but that she had interdicted implicated UPPC officials.

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