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CCTV footage pins Bagyenda on BOU document heist

Justine Bagyenda

Justine Bagyenda

MPs probing into the irregular closure and sale of seven commercial banks have asked for the unedited CCTV footage showing Justine Bagyenda and her aides taking out documents from the central bank premises.

Bagyenda, the former central bank executive director in charge of supervision, was caught on CCTV camera, sneaking out documents in three big bags from the bank premises without authorisation with the help of her personal bodyguard Juliet Adikot and driver Job Turyahabwe.

The parliamentary Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) is currently probing Bank of Uganda for the sale and closure of seven commercial banks between 1993 and 2017 as highlighted in the auditor general's forensic report. 

The auditor general questioned the absence of asset movement schedules or ledgers indicating the bank assets at closure, the assets sold and their selling price, as well as performing and non-performing loans.

Yesterday, Thursday, Bagyenda together with Adikot and the MPs reviewed the CCTV footage that essentially implicated Bagyenda in an apparent document heist. The reviewed footage showed Bagyenda's personal bodyguard Adikot and driver Turyahabwe carry out of the bank premises three bags on Sunday, February 11, 2018 into a waiting vehicle.

Bagyenda was reportedly on leave during the alleged heist. BoU administration officials said however that as a senior official, Bagyenda could access the bank premises and her office even when on leave.

Appearing before Cosase earlier on Wednesday this week, Bagyenda said the documents taken out of the bank were her personal documents. However Bank of Uganda (BoU) security director Milton Opio, said it was well-calculated move to sneak out documents - as the unedited version of the CCTV footage shows Bagyenda and her bodyguard ‘scanning’ to see if there were people around before dashing out of the bank premises using the emergence exit. Opio said Bagyenda can be seen making lengthy phone calls before the documents got sneaked out. 

“If you watch the footages this was a well-calculated move, which I think [should] be interrogated further. She would come with the bodyguard, she would not use her card, the bodyguard would use her card [to access the premises]” said Opio.

The footage also showed Bagyenda walking out of her office, through the security scanner with the bodyguard running behind her. However, the bags were not subjected to any security check as per the bank's security guidelines.  Interestingly, Ashwini Kumar the managing director of Bank of Baroda was also seen going into Bagyenda’s office before the alleged document heist.

Whenever asked to present to the committee, minutes on all transactions relating to the closure of the banks, Bagyenda has always maintained that there were not minutes to that effect.

She has since also maintained her "I don't remember" remark and response to the numerous questions from the MPs, questioning her central role in the closure and sale of the banks.

Bagyenda particularly played a central in the selling off of Global Trust bank and Crane bank to Dfcu where Bank of Uganda staff reportedly have 0.59% stake as shareholders. 

Katuntu said the MPs actually now believe that the much-acclaimed missing documents and minutes exist but were just deliberately sneaked out of the bank by Bagyenda. 

On why she used the emergence door instead of passing through the body scanner and security checkpoint, Adikot said it was because the bags were too big.

“I don’t why the bags were not checked but why I used the emergency door is because the [scanner] of the bank, those big bags can’t pass. It is only a human being who can pass there or may be these small small bags.” angrily said Adikot.

Bagyenda had earlier told the committee that the bags contained her personal documents which included MBA books, plaques, pictures, materials which she acquired from different conferences when she was a consultant. Other documents according to Bagyenda were files from the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) where she was a board member and others. 

"All the things I took out of the bank were personal. The day I came back, I was coming from the airport and that was luggage from the airport that had reading materials, handover documents and gifts for my staff." she said. 

Bagyenda faulted the security personnel on duty for failing to subject the bags to a thorough check before they were driven out of the central bank premises. 

Two BoU security assistants; Beatrice Kyambadde and Charles Mor were last year arrested and remanded to Luzira prison on charges of neglect of duty for allegedly failing to detect the illegal removal and return of vital documents from the bank premises.

BoU security consultant Rwekikiga Asiimwe said that the institution's security guidelines require employees to desist from taking actions that compromise the security of the bank.

"Call people to see what you are loading, there is no document that is supposed to leave the bank without being sanctioned. Security takes the lead; every staff is obliged to ensure that they are checked," Rwekikiga said.

Katuntu said that the committee was not only interrogating a lapse in security, but was also trying to solve the puzzle of the missing documentation. Katuntu said the committee is interested in the security matters of the central bank because lack of records such as minutes of meetings of bank liquidation, valuation reports of sale banks like Greenland bank, International Credit Bank and Cooperative bank among others doesn't auger well on the reputation of the institution. 

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