Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Former employees at Dunamiscoins Resource Centre Ltd, a blacklisted cryptocurrency exchange have hinted that security agencies opted for soft targets in the scam that saw thousands of Ugandans lose billions in deposits.
Dunamiscoins was operating a money lending business with branches in Masaka, Ndeeba, Mbale, Mukono, Lira and different parts of Kampala. However, the company closed its offices abruptly on December 3 after collecting an estimated USD 2.7 million (close 10 billion Shillings).
Records indicate that more than 1,000 customers from around the country had deposited money ranging from one million to 800 million shillings, upon being promised a 40 percent return on investment.
The closure came days after the Financial Intelligence Authority had frozen three bank accounts of the company found in Centenary Bank, Stanbic Bank and GT Bank.
In the aftermath two directors of Dunamiscoins Resources Limited were arrested and arraigned before the Law Development Centre Court where 65 counts related to obtaining money by false pretense were read to them. The two are Samson Lwanga, 37 and Mary Nabunya 53, both residents of Makindye Ssabagabo in Wakiso district.
But many of the former staff of the exchange believe that in arresting Lwanga and Nabunya, the police went for the soft targets. Although Lwanga, Nabunya, and two others, Susan Awon and Faith Makula, were the registered owners of Dunamiscoins Resources Limited, the beneficial owners of the company; were four West Africans; Kingsley Egbe and Johnson Frank from Nigeria and Isaac Akwete, and a one Dr Mike from Ghana.
“Before they started, the company at the beginning of last year, they needed local fronts who would help them with the paperwork. That’s how they got those four guys and had the company registered in their names as directors,” One source told us on condition of anonymity.
When the company was finally done with the paperwork which included being registered as a Micro Finance Institution, the real owners came and took over its day to day running.
Apart from Susan Awon who was appointed the Country director, the other three were relegated to mere marketers who mainly earned from commissions as a result of the clients they brought to the company.
“They were practically illiterate, on how to run a company. All the work was done by Johnson, Frank and Susan. True they used to be signatories to the accounts, but that’s where their role stopped. There was no day that I ever took them a cheque to sign and they refused,” the employee said.
They at all times acted on the orders of the real bosses,” another former employee of the company said.
Both Lwanga and Nabunya had no permanent office at the company. Whenever they were not in the field looking for clients, they would take refuge in Awon’s office. For their role as signatories to the accounts, they were paid 1.5million Shillings per month with a weekly allowance of 300,000 Shillings.
On the other hand, Susan Awon received 1.5 million Shillings as her monthly salary, 500,000 Shillings in weekly allowances, 200,000 Shillings for airtime, 300,000 Shillings for lunch per month, 3 million Shillings in housing allowances and 1.2 million Shillings as transport allowances, even though she also had a driver.
Another employee who worked closely with Susan Awon’s office says that Awon had a romantic relationship with Johnson, which gave her unfettered control of what happened in the company. This former employee also strongly believes that Suzan was part of the inner cable that fleeced Ugandans.
“A day after Global Cryptocurrency was closed, she transferred huge sums of money from Centenary Bank and kept it in her safes in her office. We don’t know how this money was removed from office but by the time the company closed, this money was long gone,” the former employee says.
Another employee believes she has more explanations to do than the two in custody. “The law normally captures the weak, now Nabunya and Lwanga have become the face of the scam. I’m not saying they are innocent, because they allowed being used in a scam whether knowingly or otherwise but I believe they are a small component in the scheme.
Similarly, one of their other colleagues believes that the police should have put more effort into finding Suzan because she was the face of the company.”
By the time the bubble burst Suzan, just like the four West Africans, was long gone from her rented apartment in Namasuba. Police is yet to find her.
Kampala Metropolitan deputy police Spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire, couldn’t comment on the progress of the investigations because the file relating to the case was transferred to CIID headquarters.
“Because there were so many people complaining from across the country, we thought the file should be transferred to a central place,” Owoyesigyire said.
Sydney Asubo, the Executive Director of the Financial Intelligence Authority recently disclosed to URN that the money held in the three accounts wasn’t enough to pay all the claimants although he declined to disclose the amount.
However, one of the former employees of Dunamiscoins told us that although her bosses had withdrawn huge sums of money days leading to the closure of the company, she believes that the three banks hold nothing less of 10 billion Shillings.
“We used to make at least I billion Shillings every day that would all be banked. I don’t think all that money was withdrawn. FIA should tell us how much they are holding in those accounts,” the source said.
Efforts to speak to FIA’ Asubo were futile as his known telephone number was switched off in the course of compiling this story.