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Bagyenda is morally unfit for reappointment to financial watchdog board- MPs

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Justine Bagyenda (inset) is besieged by among others ongoing investigations by the IGG (in the picture above) and the Financial Intelligence Authority among others. A recent Auditor General report also points fingers at various gaps and shortcomings in her former department at Bank of Uganda.

The reappointment of sacked and disgraced former Bank of Uganda Executive Director, Mrs. Justine Bagyenda to the board of Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) now hangs in balance following her failure to report to the parliamentary Appointments Committee.

FIA is a government agency established by the Parliament of Uganda under The Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2013, to monitor, investigate, and prevent money laundering in the country.

Bagyenda was scheduled to appear before the committee at 11:40am to defend her reappointment by Finance Minister, Matia Kasaijja, but by close of business yesterday, she had not appeared.  However, other board members such as Mr. Leo Kibirago, who is the designated FIA Board chairperson; Mr. Patrick Ocailap, Grace Akullo’s and Ms Patricia Mutesi all turned up.

Even though Bagyenda, who is facing a raft of investigations from the Financial Intelligence Authority itself as well as the Inspectorate of Government, did not turn up, the committee already had a number of petitions against her re-appointment.

MPs under the African Parliamentary Network against corruption including Manjiya County’s John Baptist Nambeshe and Kumi Municipality’s Silas Aogon presented three (3) petitions at a press conference, pushing for her reappointment to be overturned.

“These petitions object in the strongest terms, the reappointment or renewal of appointment of a one Justine Bagyenda,” said Nambeshe.

Some of the gaps identified by the Auditor General in the way BoU conduct the statutory capture and sale of defunct banks. Most of these gaps lay blame at Justine Bagyenda’s department- the Directorate of Commercial Bank Supervision

Bagyenda’s controversial reappointment to FIA comes against the background of a recent Auditor General’s report that points out several gaps in the way, Bagyenda’s department mishandled the closure of several banks. The report was ordered by Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE).

The report, amongst other findings, reported that Bank of Uganda did not carry out an independent valuation of the assets and liabilities of sold banks as required by law; raising questions as to whether proper value for money was obtained during the sale. In the case of the defunct Crane Bank, the report also found out the Central Bank did not have complete details of assets and liabilities as well as the schedule of loans and the corresponding collateral transferred to dfcu. BoU also failed to justify the Shs200bn price for a bank whose assets were valued at Shs1.1 trillion.

“These petitions object in the strongest terms, the reappointment or renewal of appointment of a one Justine Bagyenda,” said Nambeshe.

The AG also found that on top of the “contentious” Shs200bn price for Crane Bank, payable over a period of 30 months, BoU conveniently forgot to charge any interest on the credit, thereby causing taxpayers a loss of UGX39.5 billion.

Bagyenda is morally short

Whereas it is not clear whether parliament will consider giving Bagyenda another chance to defend herself, Hon. Nambeshe has vowed to fight Bagyenda ’s reappointment over her questionable “moral turpitude.”

Nambeshe accused the Ministry of Financing for abetting this impunity.

“We demand for answers from the Ministry of Finance. Why on earth would he (Matia Kasaiija) again insist on maintaining the name of Justine Bagyenda … when he knows very well that, this is a woman who has a high level of moral turpitude (wickedness)?” wondered Nambeshe.

“She lacks in every aspect of all those fundamental character traits which are required for that office. Impeccable character is zero…credibility, zero, when you go to upright standing, zero. So we wonder, isn’t this collusion? Are they not in a conspiracy to reap Ugandans left right and center? We condemn and we demand that the Minister comes up and responds to the concerns which were raised on the floor of parliament,” he added.

Bagyenda’s reappointment, which was apparently made in May this year, came as a shock to many. Mr Kasaijja who made the appointment, following the loud outcry is said to have backtracked in his footsteps.

“We demand for answers from the Ministry of Finance. Why on earth would he (Matia Kasaiija) again insist on maintaining the name of Justine Bagyenda … when he knows very well that, this is a woman who has a high level of moral turpitude (wickedness)?”

He told Daily Monitor, then that: “When I re-appointed her, the issues of money laundering and others were not yet in the press. There is no way I could have re-appointed her with question marks surrounding her integrity.”

But when it was put to him that by May 7, when the reappointment letter was authored, it was public knowledge that Mrs. Bagyenda was under probe, Mr. Kasaija evasively asked for another day to crosscheck his facts.

He has neither withdrawn his reappointment nor commented on the said appointment since then.

With her reappointment to FIA in balance and her out of Bank of Uganda, Bagyenda‘s luck seems to be slowly running out. Following the damning Auditor General’s report, she is now lined up for a tough time in parliament. It also remains to be seen whether or not, she will be exonerated by the IGG and FIA investigations whose reports are now overdue.

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