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Godfrey Kirumira (L) with Sudhir Ruparelia

Godfrey Kirumira, a close friend to the embattled defunct Crane bank boss Sudhir Ruparelia, has warned that the continued 'witch-hunt' of the businessman will only scare away more investors.

Hosted on a BBS Terefayina’s talk show yesterday, the Kwagalana group chairman termed the saga between Bank of Uganda and Sudhir as 'sad' since Uganda needs more investors, not such scandals.

Kirumira wondered how investors, for instance from Qatar, would want to bring their money in an economy where someone [Sudhir] who has contributed a lot to Uganda’s development is being humiliated.

“He amassed wealth and it is being targeted in a conspicuous manner and there are those who are spoiling his investments. They will scare away others seeking to invest in Uganda,” warned Kirumira.

“We all have respect for Sudhir and without him we would not have hosted Chogm [Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting] because he constructed Munyonyo Commonwealth hotel. If some other investor comes and he is intimidated in that way, then the country will gain nothing.”

Kirumira, who was speaking in Luganda, further trashed claims that he had knowledge of the reported Shs 400bn demanded from Sudhir by the central bank. He said he has never been a Crane Bank shareholder or a partner and doesn’t even sit on its board. He said he is “just a friend” to the embattled entrepreneur.

Kirumira explained that he was being sucked into the Sudhir conundrum by a chief executive of one reputable news organisation who is being pushed by “external forces” to attack him.

“I wonder why I am being involved in the Shs 400bn theft. How did it enter my pocket? Can’t you see there’s someone, of course I won’t say his name, but he is in a media house and he has the platform. I’m not in competition with him but because he is a CEO and he is used by someone,” Kirumira explained.

Commenting on allegations that it’s big shots that actually own Kwagalana group members’ businesses, Kirumira said that most of the businessmen are self-made and they solely own their investments. He advised the naysayers to work instead of spending their time in unconstructive talk.

“People say that Sudhir’s wealth is for President Museveni, but why didn’t Museveni save him? The president says he is a cattle keeper and I don’t even think he is involved in any business. Museveni has no hand in our businesses.”

Sudhir is deadlocked in a fight with Bank of Uganda for allegedly running sophisticated false accounts to cover up for mismanagement of Crane bank. The Central Bank alleges that Sudhir embezzled over Shs 400bn but those close to the businessman say he maintains his innocence.

4 weeks 1 day ago

President Museven is today expected in Jinja to officially open the 25th edition of the National Agriculture show at the source of the Nile –Jinja Show ground.

Security has been tightened in Jinja ahead of the president's visit and according to Jinja DPC, Mr Jamada Wandera, they are just doing their routine duty of ensuring law and order.
The president of Uganda Farmers Federation, Mr Charles Ogwanga said the president will tour the exhibition stalls before addressing the gathering at the show hall.

He said the seven days’ show which kicked off on Monday has attracted over 200 exhibitors, both local and foreigners.
Mr Oganga said that in this year’s show, they have separated trade from agriculture so that farmers can benefit from it.

He said most of the exhibitors have complied with the new guidelines including playing music at low volume, no petty trade among others.

Field Force Unit(FFU) police officers deployed

Field Force Unit(FFU) police officers deployed near the main entrance of the Source of the Nile National Agricultural Show ground. PHOTO BY DENIS EDEMA

Mr Oganga disclosed that they will organize a trade show between November and December so that traders can sell off their commodities.

“We are not entertaining petty trade in this show because it is purely agriculture. But we are to organize a trade show in the month of November and December during the festive season so that people can get advantage and do shopping,’’ he said.
One of the exhibitors also an Animal Nutritionist attached to Unga Millers ltd Mr Obed Nuwamanya said the environment is conducive for them because they can talk to show goers without even a micro phone.

“We used to shout at the top of our voices to get the attention of our clients but it is no longer a challenge,’’ he said.
Exhibitors are showcasing innovations in technology, poultry, fishing and other forms of farming.

1 month 1 day ago

Anti-Corruption Court Judge Margaret Tibulya has been assigned to hear the bribery case against suspended State minister for Labour Herbert Kabafunzaki.
Kabafunzaki will today first plead to the corruption charges against him before the hearing opens.

The Rukiga County MP is charged with soliciting and receiving a Shs5m bribe from Aya Group chairman in order to help the latter receive media publicity clearing him of the sexual harassment allegations that had been brought against him by his former female employee at Hilton Hotel.
Kabafunzaki is jointly charged with Brian Mugabo, his political assistant and Bruce Lubowa, an interior designer from Wakiso District.

The minister faces two counts of corruption and two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.
He was committed to the High Court’s Anti-Corruption Court by the lower magistrate’s court about a fortnight agao.
The prosecution said police had completed investigations into the case.
Prosecution states that Kabafunzaki committed the offence on April 6, at Aya Hotel in Kampala. As soon as the alleged bribe was given to Kabafunzaki’s aide, undercover police detectives struck like an eagle and grabbed the minister who put up a futile resistance.

1 month 1 day ago

The opposition political party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has today opened the window for members with desire to contest in the November 2 presidential elections to pick nomination papers.

In a statement released today, FDC electoral commission chairman, Dan Mugarura, announced to party members that “nomination for the position of party president for the year 2017-2022 will take place on the 14th -15th August 2017.”

This is in a bid to replace the incumbent, Mugisha Muntu, whose first term expires on November 22.

Mugisha Muntu (L) and Nandala Mafabi have expressed interest in the party presidency

The nominations of successful candidates will kick-off on August 17-31 while the elections will be held on November 2. According to the election road map released recently, picking nomination forms should have taken place between July 10 to August 12.

However the party’s deputy secretary general, Harold Kaija, told The Observer by telephone today that the delay was caused by another delay in advertising in the media.

“Nothing comes to pass without the authorisation of NEC, the process brought to NEC last week and when it was passed it couldn’t start because according to guidelines, an advert has to first be run. The advert has only run in the newspaper today,” Kaija said.

The candidates that have so far expressed interest in running for party president are incumbent Mugisha Muntu, secretary general Nathan Nandala-Mafabi, deputy vice president Geoffrey Ekanya, Moses Byamugisha and former MP Patrick Amuriat Oboi.

Muntu succeeded Kizza Besigye, the founding FDC president, on November 22, 2012 when he polled 393 votes to beat his closest rival Nandala-Mafabi who attained 361 votes. Geoffrey Ekanya came third with 17 votes.

1 month 1 day ago

Kasule Lumumba's (R) car

Police has identified the woman killed in a motor accident involving the convoy of the NRM secretary general, Justine Lumumba Kasule as Jane Namara.

Lumumba's convoy rammed into Namara at Kajjansi along Entebbe road this afternoon as she was crossing the road.  

According to Rogers Mulindwa, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) communications officer, Namara was reportedly talking on phone when she was knocked.

Initially, Mulindwa claimed that Namara 'reluctantly rammed into' Lumumba's vehicle drawing angry protests from social media. He however, retracted the statement and apologized for the inconveniences caused.
 
Charles Ssebambulidde, the Traffic police spokesperson, says a team of traffic personnel is already investigating the matter.

"Details are still scanty but we have already deployed traffic officers," Sebambulidde told URN.

Information obtained by URN indicates that Lumumba was traveling in convoy comprised of four vehicles led by a lead police vehicle.

Jack Musinguzi, a trader who witnessed the accident says, "The lady tried to cross the road after two of the convoy vehicles had passed. Lumumba's car then ran into her."
 
About a year ago, the inspector general of police (IGP) Kale Kayihura warned politicians and businessmen from using lead cars and sirens to create way on grounds that only emergency situations required right a right of way.

1 month 1 day ago

The ministry of foreign affairs has dismissed allegations on social media that over 23 Ugandans accused of drug trafficking are to be hanged in China.

In a statement released today, the ministry brands as false, the message being circulated on different social media platforms with names of the victims.

“This is to inform the general public that the list that is in circulation is one of Ugandans who were sentenced to death a number of years ago but were granted a two-year reprieve by the Chinese courts, which was later reduced from deaths to life imprisonment and further to a fixed term, ” the statement reads in part.

The ministry says it understands the Chinese government has not scheduled any executions of Ugandan prisoners lately and that the two governments carryout bilateral discussions on bilateral pending cases.

“The information that is circulating regarding the alleged executions is therefore false and we request that out of respect for each other, as well as the families of those concerned, individuals should exercise restraint and sensitivity when making a decision to circulate unsubstantiated information,” the statement continues.

Margeret Kafeero, the ministry’s acting Head of Public Diplomacy, told The Observer today that whereas Ugandans are arrested all over the world for offences among which is drug trafficking, this particular communication was to address only the issue of China following the “false alarm and not because there is any sort of crisis”.

She notes that all governments are engaged in situations like this but emphasis has been on China because of the death penalty issue which has caused an outcry.

“We as a government do not encourage our citizens to break the laws and are not advocating for them to be above the laws of their host countries. Our appeal is for clemency not for impunity,” Kafeero said.

1 month 1 day ago

Kampala- Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala, Archbishop emeritus of Kampala, has according to sources been hospitalised at Nsambya Hospital over health complications and was being attended to by various specialists.

Multiple sources close to the cardinal who asked not to be named on Sunday said he is under the care of Father Paul Mugerwa who is in charge of the cardinal house at Nsambya, where Cardinal Wamala resides.
Sources said this is the first major ailment for the cardinal, as many of his past health conditions have been handled by his personal doctor, a nun at the cardinal’s residence.

Both the Catholic establishment and Nsambya Hospital declined to comment on the cardinal’s situation as a telephone conversation with a senior hospital staff ended prematurely.
The staff declined to confirm or deny the cardinal’s presence at the facility.

The Church is yet to issue an official statement about the development.

Cardinal Wamala, 90, is one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI.

1 month 2 days ago

Tororo- The minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs Gen. Kahinda Otafiire has said Uganda will only score its goal of having a middle income population if citizens start thinking beyond individualism.
He said Ugandans should concentrate on fighting for space in the global market and coming up with ideas that can enable their country to be globally recognised for fronting new ideas that transform society.

‘’I am so annoyed with most Ugandans who are still busy talking about tribe and fighting for colonial boundaries. In this 21 century, I had expected Ugandans to be competing in coming up with ideas that would put Uganda at the helm of the world but not being known for eating raw rats and threatening to become cannibals over a mere boundary,’’ Gen. Otafiire said.
The minister was on Saturday officiating at the launch of ‘’Sowing the Mustard Seed booklet at Rock High School in Tororo District.

He said while people in other countries are busy going to the moon and making discoveries on new planets, Ugandans are busy opposing the debate on age limit not knowing that performance is not based on age but the knowledge to lead and offer services.
Gen. Otafiire castigated people opposing the proposed amendment of the presidential age limit, saying the amendment will not only favour the current government but any government that Ugandans might vote to power.

He told students to study of the book and suggest possible changes that they think could help Uganda to move to a certain level in terms of social and economic development.
He said young people are the engine of transformation and whatever they do would count on their generation.

Butaleja District woman Member of Parliament, Ms Milly Mugenyi asked students to become ambassadors of change in their respective areas.
She said their level of understanding will be determined by the change they will influence in society

1 month 2 days ago

Ministry of Defence and ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs lead the log of highly indebted government agencies that are giving local suppliers sleepless nights, latest official figures indicate.

Government is indebted to local suppliers to the tune of Shs 2.3 trillion, with the two ministries accounting for more than half of that sum.

According to statistics published by ministry of Finance, the ministry of Defence is indebted to the tune of Shs 718.5bn while ministry of Justice owes Shs 673.3bn.

These are debts accumulated mostly from domestic business actors who supply these institutions with food, furniture, drugs and other supplies but take months, even years, without being paid. In the case of ministry of Justice, the debt includes claims for damages and compensation from people who successfully sue government agencies.

Besides the two ministries, other major debtors include Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra), which owes suppliers Shs 222.1bn, and National Medical Stores (NMS) with a domestic debt of Shs 137.3bn.

The Office of the President owes Shs 33bn, Uganda Prisons Shs 43bn, Makerere University Shs 28.5bn and Gulu University Shs 5.6bn. On its part, the External Security Organisation (ESO) is indebted to the tune of Shs 20bn.

Last year, several private firms asked for a financial bailout package, saying their businesses were failing partly because government agencies have failed to pay them. Others have not been paid for goods and services rendered to the South Sudan government ever since war broke out in that country.

It gets worse if the affected companies have borrowed the money they used to supply government. In his budget speech last month, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija announced strong measures to fight delays in paying suppliers, including withholding money meant for any agency that is not paying its suppliers.

Kasaija said this financial year, government would pay out Shs 300bn, an amount analysts say is just a drop in the ocean. If the government provided that amount every year, it would take eight years to clear the arrears. Within that period, they are likely to have accumulated more.

“In order to provide an immediate boost to the economy, Shs 300bn has been allocated to settle domestic arrears. This amount will be released in the first quarter of next financial year,” Kasaija said, adding that “government departments that delay payments for goods and services supplied by the private sector for more than fourteen (14) days will have their future releases withheld until such payments have been made.”

Some government agencies have accumulated arrears in utilities such as water and electricity. In February, National Water and Sewerage Corporation was forced to cut off Uganda Prisons, Uganda Police, and Mulago hospital over unpaid bills stretching years back.

Agency

Debt (Shs)

Ministry of Defence

718.5bn

Min of Justice and Constitutional Affairs

673.3bn

Office of the President

33bn

Ministry of Public Service

2bn

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

47.3bn

Ministry of Finance

140bn

Office of the Prime Minister

797.4m

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

1.9bn

Ministry of Local Government

30bn

Ministry of Lands

10.3bn

Ministry of Education

14bn

Ministry of Health

9bn

Ministry of Trade

6.3bn

Ministry of East African Affairs

2.3bn

Ministry of Works and Transport

112m

Ministry of Energy

3.1bn

Ministry of Water and Environment

20bn

Ministry of ICT

4.2bn

Ministry of Tourism

5.6bn

Judiciary

2.1bn

Electoral Commission

4.3bn

Inspectorate of Government

36m

Parliamentary Commission

1bn

Uganda Human Rights Commission

2.7bn

Uganda Aids Commission

166.5m

National Planning Authority

6.6m

UNRA

222.1bn

Uganda Industrial Research Institute

527m

Busitema University

1.5bn

Uganda Cancer Institute

13.4m

Uganda Heart Institute

1.1bn

National Medical Stores

137.3bn

Uganda Tourism Board

74m

Uganda Road Fund

213m

Uganda Registration Services Bureau

1bn

Dairy Development Authority

35m

KCCA

13.5bn

Rural Electricity Agency

61,017

Equal Opportunities Commission

879m

NAGRC & DB

30m

NITA (U)

200m

Muni University

1.2bn

Office of the Auditor General

496.7m

Education Service Commission

3.6m

Health Service Commission

9.5m

Makerere University

28.5bn

Mbarara University

387m

MUBS

1.3bn

Kyambogo University

14.7bn

NARO

269m

Uganda Bureau of Statistics

20m

Uganda Police

26bn

Uganda Prisons

43bn

Public Service Commission

40m

Local Government Finance Commission

1.4m

Gulu University

5.6bn

NEMA

25m

Uganda Blood Transfusion Services

53m

PPDA

44m

UNBS

49m

Cotton Development Authority

521,300

Uganda Land Commission

7.3bn

NFA

47m

External Security Organisation

20bn

Uganda Coffee Development Authority

22bn

Uganda National Meteorological Authority

1.2bn

Uganda Export Promotion Board

750,000

Mulago National Referral hospital

1.3bn

Gulu Regional Referral hospital

1.3bn

Kabale Regional Referral hospital

1.6m

Masaka Regional Referral hospital

323m

Mbale Regional Referral hospital

12m

Soroti Regional Referral hospital

153m

Mbarara Regional Referral hospital

1.6bn

Mubende Regional Referral hospital

8.6m

Moroto Regional Referral hospital

92m

Uganda High Commission in India

228m

Uganda Embassy in Egypt

51m

Uganda Embassy in China

915m

Uganda Embassy in Italy

13.2m

Total

Shs 2.3tn

 

1 month 2 days ago

Bank of Uganda has suspended audit firm Ernst & Young Uganda from auditing any commercial banks this year.

Its suspension, according to reliable sources, is related to the collapse of Crane bank, The Observer can reveal. An impeccable source told us that the decision to suspend Ernst & Young was taken after a forensic audit showed the firm’s staff had helped the bank hide critical information from other auditors and the regulators.

“This was multilayered fraud,” said the source. “It had been organised for a long time and deliberately to defraud. And someone had to take punitive measures,” the source added.

Therefore, Ernst & Young is not allowed to audit any commercial bank, credit institutions, microfinance and deposit-taking institutions (MDIs), forex bureaus and money remitters in Uganda this year.

Ernst & Young Uganda is a member of the London-headquartered EY Global, which brands itself as “a global leader in assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services.” It says each of its member entities operate independently.

Ernst & Young is one of the big four audit firms in the country. Geoffrey Byamugisha, the EY country leader, told The Observer on Saturday:  “Our suspension is not connected to Crane bank.”

“The issue is that we were suspended because we submitted our pre-qualification documents to a wrong office at Bank of Uganda,” Byamugisha said, without explaining how they came to appear on the first list of the pre-qualified external auditors published on December 31, 2016.

“It has nothing to do with Crane bank,” he said.
“In any case, we have never audited Crane bank.”

Available information shows that Crane bank was audited by KPMG from 2004-2007 and 2013-2015; PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) in 2008-2010; Deloitte and Touch 2011-2012.

But our source confirmed that the firm, which provides many services beyond auditing,  was penalised by the central bank because it helped the defunct financial institution hide some critical information.

The central bank is required by regulation 4 (2) of the Financial Institution (External Auditors) Regulations, 2010 to publish a list of approved auditors by the 31st of December of each year, from which financial institutions are required to nominate for appointment their respective external auditors.

In the first pre-qualified list of external auditors, which was published on Page 2 of Saturday Vision of December 31, 2016, EY appears on the list. This was when the Crane bank forensic audit was ongoing.

On January 7, 2017 – right about the time the audit was completed – the central bank issued another notice recalling the earlier notice, and saying “the previous one published on Saturday December 31, 2016 had an error.”  It was only EY that was omitted from the second publication.

Last week, BOU said in a statement that it had instructed its lawyers to file a case at the Commercial court in order to recover $93.8 million (Shs 337.6bn) and Shs 60.3bn from former Crane bank proprietor Sudhir Ruparelia and his real estate company Meera Investments respectively. 

“The Bank of Uganda as a receiver of Crane bank limited and regulator of the banking sector sanctioned the filing of a suit against Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments Limited to recoup funds that were fraudulently extracted from, as well as losses that were caused to Crane bank,” said BOU in its statement on Friday.

The central bank argues in court documents that Sudhir used several companies to transfer money from the bank. The bank also found that Sudhir owned almost 100 per cent of the bank, contrary to local regulations that require no single individual to wholly own a financial institution.

Earlier in November, just a month after Crane bank was placed under receivership, a top official at BOU told this newspaper: “Remember the Enron scandal in the USA; Crane and Uchumi are in the same bracket.”

He was referring to Arthur Andersen, one of the world’s big five audit firms, which was found to have understated Enron, then one of the biggest energy firms in the USA. The financials covered up billions of dollars in losses.

Arthur Andersen collapsed after the scandal. Ernst & Young’s sister firm in Kenya is battling litigants in court after its audits of struggling retailer Uchumi were used by the latter in its 2014 rights issue to generate Kshs 1.6bn.

Kenya Capital Markets Authority and Jamii Bora Bank, which was the single largest shareholder in Uchumi, are some of the firms that have sued Ernst & Young.

1 month 2 days ago

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