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OPM: MPs Want Finance Top Shots Fired

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search http://clipvoice.it/administrator/components/com_categories/helpers/categories.php geneva;”>Majority of the implicated officials work with the Ministry of Finance which has been described as the “epicenter” of the fraud that saw billions of shillings meant for the recovery efforts of war-torn Northern Uganda stolen.


Parliament recommended that the Accountant General, Gustavio Bwoch, and Mr Isaac Mpoza, the commissioner of Treasury Services Department, be held liable for transferring shs20.171b to crisis management recovery programme funds from the holding account to project accounts in contravention of the Joint Financing Agreement that they were privy to.


Mpoza and Bwoch are also accused of transferring the said funds based on irregular request and negligence in failing to detect and stop the fraud.


MPs said the duo must be referred to appointing authority, President Yoweri Museveni for disciplinary action. It remains unclear if the President will sack the officials, considering that he has promised to crack down on corrupt civil servants.


Chimp Corps say the report gives a detailed and clear trail of the theft of OPM funds, pointing to the Finance Ministry as its origin.


The report findings indicate that the technocrats at the Ministry of finance diverted shs39.3bn donor (Ireland, Sweden & Denmark) funds from PRDP Basket Account, adding only Shs10.1bn was transferred to Consolidated Account for PRDP activities.


It was recommended that Mariam Kiggundu and David Mugisha, all economists at the Finance Ministry and Jennifer Muwuliza, the commissioner aid liaison, be prosecuted for “initiating fraudulent transfers of funds from PRDP holding accounts to project accounts in OPM.”


MPs advised that Mugisha and Bright Atwine of Treasury Services Department, be held responsible for uttering false documents to cover up fraud and referred to appointing authority for disciplinary action over fraudulent transfer of Shs20.171b to crisis management recovery programme.


Contacted, Ministry of Finance said it would issue a formal statement on the MPs’ findings in “the not-too-distant future.”


Regarding the diversion of Shs11.166b from Norwegian support to PRDP Account, the MPs said Bwoch and outgoing OPM Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana must be held liable.


Bigirimana told Chimpreports on Monday morning that he does not regret spending money on cars for government officials including the Prime Minister to facilitate government business.


“I was thinking outside the box. The Ministers needed cars to do government work and the cars are there. I take blame for that but it was the best and right thing to do considering the circumstances at the time.”


He further added that the plot to plunder donor funds was “hatched, nursed and executed by officials at the Finance Ministry.”


He also noted that had Bwoch, whom he described as the “chief priest of government accounts,” not diverted the funds, the “country would have been saved from this scandal.”


MPs further noted that Bigirimana be held responsible for negligence of duty in executing responsibilities under the Integrated Finance Management Systems (IFMS).


However, Bigirimana maintains his signatures were forged by interdicted Principal Accountant Godfrey Kazinda who illegally allocated himself authority to transact business on behalf of OPM without the accounting officer’s knowledge.


The MPs also agreed with the Auditor General John Muwanga’s findings in a 2012 investigation report that internal control weaknesses at the treasury facilitated the graft.


Therefore, MPs said Bwoch be held responsible for failing to ensure an effective internal audit function at the Finance ministry. The lawmakers further said the internal audit function in government be strengthened by separating its mandate and reporting structure from the Finance ministry.


MPs also want Lubega prosecuted for fraudulently assigning access privileges to Mr Kazinda.


Lawmakers further contend the Finance ministry must ensure accounting officers are fully competent in operating IFMS and Kazinda investigated for causing financial loss of Shs16bn.


BOU

The investigative report recommends that Bank of Uganda must comply with their guidelines with regard to confirmation of payments.


“Bank of Uganda and Finance should set a threshold above which confirmation must be made with principal signatory. Disciplinary measures be taken against BoU officials involved. CIID should investigate possible collusion with view to prosecution,” the report, which Chimpreports has seen, reads in part.


Bigirimana accused BoU officials of failure to confirm with him before releasing money for OPM project “but were always in touch with Kazinda.”


MPs also resolved that the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury (but now promoted to Treasury Secretary), Keith Muhakanizi, be held responsible for causing financial loss by giving open ended authority to withdraw imprest above limit.


MPs said Bank of Uganda must be held accountable for causing financial loss by failing to execute terms of a memorandum of understanding meant to safeguard electronic transfers.


The Parliamentary Accounts Committee started investigations into the scam in 2012. It interviewed dozens of government officials and witnesses save Kazinda who was already facing forgery and embezzlement charges at the Anti Corruption court.


However, no action will be taken against the implicated government officials until the report is adopted by Parliament.

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