KAMPALA- After two years of investigations into the theft of pension funds in the Ministry of Public Service, police have issued two contradicting reports of their findings.
At least Shs360 billion was lost in the ministry after some officials siphoned out the money by creating non-existing pension beneficiaries whom they paid regularly as the genuine pensioners spent years without receiving their entitlements.
Both reports from police, with different recommendations and conclusions seen by Sunday Monitor, have been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal aice and further action.
“When you read the two reports, they have contradictions in material particulars,” the DPP spokesperson, Ms Jane Okuo confirmed to Sunday Monitor.
The first report dated December 30, 2013, details how Cairo Bank and Public Service ministry officials masterminded the scam. It also highlights how the bank account numbers for the fraud were availed in aance to the officials in the pension department at the ministry to have them entered on the pension payroll.
“The release of pension money to Cairo Bank found already pre-prepared accounts with or without titles ready to post credits,” reads the report.
While the bank claims the money was paid to the alleged beneficiaries through a businessman named Peter Sajjabi, the 52-page police report says: “Cairo Bank appears not to have effectively used the alleged assignment letters by the various account holders for the bank to pay their money through a one Peter Sajjabi.
There is no any piece of documented evidence to indicate that by virtue of the alleged assignment letters that the money was paid through Peter Sajjabi and that he had indeed signed receipt of the monies on behalf of the alleged account holders,” the police report says.
The police further state that the then ministry’s permanent secretary Jimmy Lwamafa did not exercise his responsibility of ensuring proper pension budget expenditure and accused him of applying a carefree style of supervision and losing technical control of the ministry.
“Christopher Obey, the principal accountant, deliberately took aantage of lack of robust supervision and strong checks and balance by his supervisors to perpetrate the pension fraud,” the police report reads in part.
Obey is one of the suspects in the pension scam.
The report highlights a litany of Mr Obey’s failures and alleged manipulation of the payment system to divert the pension funds.
“Jimmy Lwamafa, the ministry’s accounting officer, Mr Christopher Obey, the Principal Accountant Pensions, Stephen Kunsa Kiwanuka, the Commissioner Compensation department, David Oloka Japians, senior accountant in the pensions and Stephen Lwanga be held responsible for causing financial loss and abuse of office,” police recommend.
Police also recommend: “Cairo International Bank as an institution be faulted for flouting the financial institutions’ (anti-money laundering) regulations…”
The report clears one Francis Lubega, the IT system manager, saying: “His involvement in the manifestation and perpetration of the fraud at Ministry of Public Service was insignificant.”
“He may, therefore, not be criminally responsible for a clear criminal offence,” reads the report.
It also says it was difficult to prove conspiracy against one Sajjabi because there was no evidence that he signed for money at Cairo Bank even when circumstantial evidence is that he was seen at the bank whenever money was withdrawn.
“These investigations found out that conspiracy is not simply an agreement to engage in unlawful act it would require not only agreement and intent but also the commission of an overt act in furtherance of the agreement,” the police say.
The report adds that it was difficult to connect Mr Sajjabi to the withdrawal of the money since he did not sign anywhere on the bank documents.
However, the second police report hold Mr Lubega and Mr Sajjabi culpable and recommend their prosecution. It says Mr Sajjabi was implicated by the statements of the bank employees who said they used to give him the money.
“There was conspiracy between Sajjabi Peter and Christopher Obey and David Oloka Japians in the creation of the ghosts,” reads the second police report.
The first police report argues that implicating Mr Sajjabi without documented proof would be a weak evidence because “you can’t withdraw money from a bank without signing anywhere”. It also says mere blaming Mr Lubega for processing names handed to him by his superiors would not be enough to incriminate him.
Ms Okuo told Sunday Monitor that the DPP was only concerned about sufficiency and analysis of the evidence provided by the police because the contradictions would create a legal challenge to the prosecution.
However, she insisted the trial of the suspects would proceed despite the contradicting police findings.
“Eventually the decision we took to prosecute the suspects will stand and the case shall go ahead as charged,” she said.
Attempts to reach the police director Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Grace Akullo for a comment on the contradictions in the pension scam findings were fruitless as she could not answer our repeated calls to her mobile phone.
DPP, Police meet
Last week, the DPP held a meeting with police detectives who investigated the case to discuss the contradictions.
Crime intelligence sources attributed the contradictions to alleged interference by some of the suspects.
A source in DPP’s office said they were reluctant to rely solely on evidence from police following the contradictions in their own reports and the recent example of Jackie Nsenga trial where police had initially stated that the available evidence could not sustain the charge of murder and instead proposed a charge of a traffic offence. But the DPP insisted on the murder charge and finally secured a conviction in the High Court.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor