Government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo has dismissed a report that the ongoing investigation into a procurement scam involving the Central Bank involves the printing of extra currency by some Bank of Uganda (BoU) officials.
According to him the government is investigating who leaked such sensitive information. He claims such information could put the national security into jeopardy.
Earlier media reports quoted Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga saying that Police had arrested senior officials of the Central bank and recovered documents on a plot to illegally print and bring unauthorized currency notes into the country.
Although he did not divulge details on the scandal, Enanga stated that the persons under custody include workers within the Bank of Uganda and the Customs department at Entebbe International Airport.
The investigation follows an alert by the Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, about an anomaly detected during the verification of a consignment that was received in April in the Bank inventory. He made no mention of what the anomaly entails, sparking speculation that some Central Bank officials wanted to fleece part of the money that was coming into the country on a chartered plane.
According to information obtained by URN (Uganda Radio Network), the plane had 25 pallets containing Ugandan currency. However, only 20 belonged to BoU. Although they were intact upon delivery, the Central Bank detected that what was delivered was more than what was expected.
Amid the controversy, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told journalists in Kampala that although there is an ongoing investigation, it is not about extra or illegally printed currency. However, he maintains that Police is investigating how the extra cargo was loaded onto the Bank of Uganda Chartered plane.
Ofwono had tweeted earlier that the cargo belonged to businessman Charles Mbire, United Nations, USAID and businessman Omar Mandela. Ofwono this morning added that any department of government that gives misleading information to the public is liable to be called to order for creating unnecessary fear in the economy.
He further said all claims saying extra money was printed should be discerned. The agitated Ofwono opondo said whoever was involved in leaking of such sensitive information is going to be dealt with accordingly.
On Saturday, a day after the scandal came into the limelight, URA distanced itself from the Bank of Uganda saga, saying its members did what they were expected to do when the currency arrived in the country in April.
URA acting Commissioner-General Dickson Kateshumbwa said in a statement that “When a privately charted plane arrived in April…, customs facilitated the clearance of the currency at the tarmac in presence of BOU officials, BOU security, aviation security, police and other security agencies”.
He said the consignment was then loaded on BOU vehicles and taken to Kampala with a heavy security escort. He said the extra cargo, which belonged to other individuals, companies and organizations and these were cleared after paying taxes.