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BoU’s printing money saga

The case of extra cargo

Sources at police have told The Independent that while being interrogated, Bazinzi said that on April 26, he received information that the cargo had set off. The cargo would land in Entebbe at about 8am on Saturday April 27, he was informed. The two officials in France; Kakeeto and Wanyama, did not notify him of any extra cargo on the plane.

BoU had a strategy meeting in one of the hotels in Kampala starting on April 25 and Governor Tumusiime Mutebile and his Deputy Louis Kasekende were in attendance.

According to sources at the centre of the investigations, Bazinzi says once he got information that the plane had set off and everything was in order, he informed authorities, and headed to the BoU retreat. He reportedly assigned another official, Juliet Piloya, to be in charge of the consignment.

Piloya’s job was to ensure that Baluku’s team would be at Entebbe to inspect and pick the cargo.  That is exactly what happened. But even after Entebbe no official mentioned the extra cargo. So between Saturday April 27 and Monday April 29, neither Piloya nor Bazinzi heard about the incident at the airport.

Then on Tuesday April 30, Bazinzi received two reports—the quality assurance report and another from Baluku, who led the team to Entebbe. The report had photos showing that there was extra cargo on the plane.

This three-day delay to report would be the start of troubles for Baluku. But even bigger trouble awaited Kakeeto and Wanyama.

Why hadn’t they reported these details while still in France? Better yet why hadn’t they reported these matters on arrival? Could they have been covering up something? Was there extra currency in these pallets? Investigators grappled with these questions.

Amidst all this it emerged that even the currency BoU ordered did not, as agreed, fly directly from France to Entebbe. It was diverted to Liege Airport in Belgium. This raised new questions: How did the cargo land at Liege? Were Kakeeto and Wanyama at Liege? Did they even see the cargo being loaded on the plane?

Leaked documents seen by The Independent reveal that Dr. Bazinzi fired off memos to the Bank’s Legal Counsel and even the printer, Oberthur Fiduciaire seeking to get to the bottom of the matter.

On May 02, Bazinzi wrote to a one Christopher Montet, the Commercial Director Oberthur Fiduciaire, demanding an explanation and citing a breach of contract.

Bazinzi wrote: “Reference is made to your letter dated March 22 2019 notifying the Bank about the different flight options, types and indicative prices for cash of them for the delivery of 70 million bank note pieces of printed matter. The letter highlighted that the flight type was full charter; however, during the inspection of cargo in the plane the team noted that 5 out of the total 25 pallets had items that did not belong to Bank of Uganda as per the fixed labels. This contravened the freight terms of Full Charter and, presented a high risk to the Central Bank of Uganda. The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to request you justify the contract breach, given the risks associated with this kind of action.”

It is the cargo company that responded.

Sam Lindsey, the Commercial Manager, Network Airline Management Ltd, replied:

“Unfortunately, during a routine inspection of the MD-11F aircraft due to operate charter flight AJK4042/LGG-EBB/26th April 2019, the maintenance team identified a technical issue deeming the aircraft AOG in EBB and unable to operate. To eradicate any risk of delaying this important charter, we took the decision to utilise our B747-400BCF to operate on schedule. In addition to the printed matter, there were also some spare parts for the unserviceable MD-11F and some general cargo loaded onboard to mitigate the losses of operating the B747F on this routing.

Please accept our apologies that this was not declared when the change of the aircraft was made. We fully appreciate and understand the importance, and security required when carrying such cargo and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Then on May 07 Oberthur Fiduciaire also wrote:

“The two Bank of Uganda representatives were informed about the 1 raw material pallet. For the four remaining pallets, the cargo company “Network Airline Management” did not inform us and have presented their apologies in writing. Fortunately, we were able to maintain delivery as per the initial commitment.

However, we would like to compensate Bank of Uganda for the misinformation regarding the 4 pallets and the inconvenience caused. Would you please tell us whether you prefer a 10% discount on the coming delivery of the UGX10,000 notes or 15,000 US Dollars off of your invoice to pay for the UGX 5000?

Bazinzi had also written to BoU’s Legal Counsel for an opinion on whether the service providers breached the contract.”

Christopher Montet, and Claire-Lise BASSAGET, the Back office Manager, Oberthur Fudiciaire, signed the later.

Investigations by The Independent show that Montet also visited BoU around the same time. But details of what he discussed with the officials remain scanty.

A memo written by Bazinzi to BoU’s Legal Counsel also revealed several details about the contract BoU had entered with Oberthur.

According to the memo, the contract dated July 26, 2018 required Oberthur to reprint 170 million pieces and 130 million pieces of UGX 5000 and UGX 10,000. Oberthur was required to select two reputable carriers and insurers, from which BoU picked Kuehne+Nagel.

The Independent wrote to Oberthur Fudiciaire and Kuehne+Nagel.

Charlotte Lafont, the Group Communications Manager, Oberthur Fudiciaire responded: “Many thanks for your email and your interest. Please note that we do not have any additional information to give.” Kuehne+Nagel did not respond.

This saga is a major setback for BoU although Nakalema now says the focus of her investigation is on how extra cargo ended up on a plane that was supposed to carry only BoU cargo.

Apparently, the cargo belonged to over 10 entities including organisations like the United Nations, USAID, and individuals like businessman Charles Mbire, the chairman MTN Uganda, Omar Mandela, the proprietor of City Oil fuel stations and Café Javas.

Despite these clarifications, however, there is a story that has refused to die down. It alleges that the investigation includes alleged printing of unauthorised excess currency notes.

This story grew wings when police confirmed it had raided homes of officials BoU officials at the centre of the controversy.

The Independent understands that police decided to intensify the investigations. That is how officials who had been released, were recalled, interrogated again, and others detained.

This time, Kakeeto, Wanyama, Baluku, and Malinga, the Director Currency were all arrested on June.19. Initially, only Kakeeto and Wanyama were charged. We had not established Baluku’s fate by press time.

That day Malinga was asked to bring all the documents surrounding the procurement to police. Apparently, when he took them to police, he was detained. He too was on June.25 brought before the Anti-Corruption Court and charged.

Malinga’s troubles rotate around two issues. During investigations, authorities learnt that he was the Contracts Manager for the Contract with Oberthur Fiduciaire.

But sources also claim that during interrogations, investigators learnt that even though he was on leave, the officials that travelled to France kept informing him about the details of the procurement and yet he had not reported the same. “Investigators are trying to find out why?” a source privy to the investigations told The Independent before he was brought before court.

So was extra currency printed?

Nakalema has dismissed reports that her investigation includes alleged printing of unauthorised excess currency notes.

This could be because printing this currency involves what insiders describe as “the usual rigorous contracting process” that lasts a year and involves many signatures and paper trail.

That is the process Oberthur Fudiciaire went through to win the contract. Apparently every quarter, BoU assesses the stock of currency in circulation. Mainly it looks at how currency in circulation matches conditions in the economy, especially its growth. There are other factors; including feculent currency that is withdrawn.

Once the currency department determines that there is need to print new currency, it tables the demand before the Currency Policy Committee (CPC). Once this committee approves, the process of procurement begins. In the case of this contract, the process began around April 2018.

Prequalified companies including Oberthur, De La Rue, and G&D were invited to bid. Oberthur won following evaluation by the BoU’s Contracts Evaluation Committee. The committee made recommendations to Governor Mutebile.

In July 2018, BoU entered a contract with Oberthur Fudiciaire. There was another elaborate process that involved ensuring that the printer used the right raw materials. Throughout all these processes, BoU would send officials to do quality assurance.

Charles Malinga, the Director Currency had been appointed the Contract Manager with Martin Lukagga as the Assistant Contract Manager.

The job of the Contract Manager and his Assistant is to ensure everything around the contract goes according to plan.

That is how Malinga came to appoint the team that went to France and the one that went to Entebbe to pick the cargo. And that is where the trouble started.

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2 comments

  1. BOU SAGA – Classic case of diplomats in the UN system conniving with others in BOU, tycoons sighted to defrud the people of Uganda.

    BOU officials get rich via illegal deals of this kind. They conspire with the rich Mafia to rob the state.

    Cargo for destined to UN officials is subject to diplomatic immunity. It is most unlikely that anyone would have physically inspected it due to that reason.

    Depot the UN Officials involved, lock up Mbire, Mandela and BOU officials e,g Malinga.

  2. I as well believe thus, perfectly pent post!

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