Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile was yesterday grilled by Members of Parliament over the central bankâ€™s â‚¬3.3m (Shs10.7b) secret foreign account in a German bank which had never been declared for 10 years.
The secret BoU account in Germany was disclosed by the Auditor General in the 2014 audit report, revealing to Parliament that since 2003 when the account was opened, it was not recorded in the central bankâ€™s ledger.
â€œDuring (audit), we noted an amount of Euro 3,354,980 confirmed by Deutsche Bank Frankfurt in the name of Bank of Uganda but not recorded in the BoU general ledger,â€ the Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, states in his report.
â€œSo many strange things happen in this country,â€ exclaimed Mr Abdu Katuntu, chairman of the Parliamentâ€™s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises.
The committee was discussing the Auditor Generalâ€™s report yesterday.
The report says the cash stashed in the Germany account was governmentâ€™s share of â€œproceeds from the sale of Deutsche Entwicklungs Gesellschft (DEG), a German investment company with shares in dfcu bank.â€
The Auditor General noted that through an agreement between the government and DEG, the money would be used for development projects in Uganda.
During the audit process, BoU officials revealed that the account was opened in 2003 but the Auditor General observed: â€œDeutsche Bank first confirmed the balances to BoU in 2013, 10 years after the account was opened.
â€œIt is intriguing that Uganda has got some 3.3m Euros somewhere in a foreign account; it has been on a foreign account for 10 years, it is not in your books? What was it all about?â€ Mr Katuntu asked the BoU officials during the committee proceedings.
Mr Katuntu told Mr Mutebile and his officials that the â€œintriguing caseâ€ bears striking similarities with the infamous scam in the Office of the Prime Minister.
â€œThis is a very unfortunate case, I am sure governor and your officers do realise that. Is it an isolated case? Thatâ€™s what we have to examine. Wasnâ€™t it something like the OPM [scam]?â€ Mr Katuntu observed.
In a written submission, Prof Mutebile said upon instructions from the Accountant General, the money on the Germany account was transferred to the Consolidated Fund in February 2015. â€œMinistry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development was notified and upon instructions from the Accountant Generalâ€™s office, the funds on the DEG account amounting to Shs10.7b were duly transferred to the Uganda Consolidated Fund on 11, February 2015,â€ Mr Mutebile stated in his response.
Pressed by MP Anita Among (Bukedea) on why the money remained unreported for that long, BoUâ€™s director of settlements and payments Joyce Okello said they couldnâ€™t do anything about the money as they had notified ministry of Finance but its response on what to do with the funds was not forthcoming.
â€œWe had the money on a foreign bank account and we are not in any way authorised to debit or credit as bankers unless we have instructions. We did not have any instructions from government on how to account for this money in our ledgers,â€ Ms Okello told the committee.
â€œWe did raise the issue with the Ministry of Finance and their immediate response at that time was that they needed more information on the account,â€ she added.