Bank of Uganda governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile has made a U-turn informing the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) that he actually received all the reports regarding the closure of past banks, writes ALON MWESIGWA.
In a letter dated November 23, 2018 addressed to the committee chairman, Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu, Mutebile said the BOU board holds meetings quarterly and “one of the items on the agenda considered during board meetings is a report on the state of financial sector presented by the office of the executive director, supervision. Some of these reports contain high-level presentation on the state of affairs of closed banks”.
“We have compiled all the reports on the state of the financial sector for the period July 1996 to March 2018 in their original format, as presented by the office of the executive director, supervision.”
Earlier, Mutebile had told the committee that he had not received the reports on the closed banks, much to the bewilderment of the staff officials he was appearing with at parliament. It became a subject of discussion with MPs pressing former supervision boss Justine Bagyenda on whether she submitted letters.
In his letter, Mutebile warns: “Because of the sensitivity of the contents in these reports and minutes, we are submitting one of each for reference. We appeal to you that these reports and minutes should be treated with utmost confidentiality.”
The inquiry into the closure of some banks has seen the central bank become the centre of interest with some staff members not happy with the way top officials have presented their case to parliament. For instance, according to one staff member, they believe that Mutebile should have been more open about the receipt of the reports.
A lot of contention on the reports of the closure has been on the valuation of properties before they were sold. The auditor general found that some of the assets of the defunct banks were sold at an astonishing 93 per cent discount.
A letter seen by The Observer dated April 2003 from Bagyenda to the governor asks for the release of titles of closed banks under liquidation and it was received in the governor’s office on April 23, 2003.
“Debtors who have completed payment of their debts and have requested for their land titles and other securities…[this] is to request your approval to release the securities to the debtors.”
Another letter received in governor’s office on April 29, 2004 and signed by Godfrey Yiga Masajja, the then acting director for commercial banking, informed Mutebile they had received bids for advertised properties of defunct banks and sought approval to effect the sale.
“We have received bids from prospective buyers of delinquent loan collaterals in the closed banks…the bids are above the forced sale value given by the valuers,” reads the letter. The sale was approved by the governor’s office.
A BOU staff told The Observer: “The governor was PSST [Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury] in the 1990s and member of the board when the three banks were closed. He was present in the Justice [James] Ogoola judicial commission of inquiry related to those closed banks. He has been governor since 2001 to date and the executive director, supervision reports directly to him.”