Log in
Free: The Observer Mobile App - Exclusive Content and Services

Bagyenda tongue-tied on Global bank sale

Justine Bagyenda

Justine Bagyenda

Until the beginning of this year, the sitting posture at Bank of Uganda’s level 7 boardroom told who exactly wielded power.

The governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile sat in the middle sandwiched on his immediate left by deputy governor Dr Louis Kasekende, followed by Justine Bagyenda, the then executive director for supervision. On the right, sat Dr Adam Mugume, the executive director, research. Mutebile called on these to answer any questions concerning their departments.

“The banking sector is stable,” Bagyenda usually answered assertively to any journalist who questioned the sector’s health. Oblivious to the reporters was the power she wielded in the central bank itself both as the director, commercial banking and later executive director, supervision.

Last week, Bagyenda told the Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu-led parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (cosase), that in 2014 there were minutes of the closure of Global Trust bank and its resultant sale to Dfcu bank and that the decision had been agreed upon by the entire board. But BOU secretary Susan Kanyemibwa, shot back: “Mr Chairman, through the governor, I have all the minutes from January to December 2014 and those ones [of Global Trust bank’s sale] are not in.”

Then came more revelations. That the bank was sold just hours after she pressed the padlock. That National Bank of Commerce was sold to Crane bank via a mere phone-call. If anything, this literally shows how muchpower the Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh Business School-MBA graduate wielded over the country’s financial sector.

On several high-level conferences around the world, including at the World Bank, IMF and other premium organisations, she presented papers on corporate governance and its significance in the banking sector. In short profile submitted to the World Bank and International Finance Corporation’s financial and private sector development forum in 2007, Bagyenda described herself as having experience in “bank supervision, restructuring and resolution...and prudential norms and practices.”

“She has been instrumental in conducting diagnostic and due diligence reviews of problem banks and has taken a lead role in resolving and liquidating failed banks,” read her profile in part.

The information available shows that Bagyenda has worked as a short-term consultant to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for East AFRITAC (East African Regional Technical Assistance Center) missions. She is chairperson of the Uganda Anti– Money Laundering Committee. Bagyenda also has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a diploma in credit appraisal.

In the committee, her profile crumbled as MPs – some of whom not economists – helped poke holes into her and her former colleagues’ responses at BOU. In February, 2018 after more than 25 years at BOU, Mutebile decided to fire her with six months to run her contract. She refused to hand over office because her contract was still standing. At parliament, there have been moments that bordered on humour and absurdity.

For instance, last week, on failure of directors to answer questions, Katuntu pressed to get Mutebile get in and he dropped a bombshell: “If the heads of departments can’t answer, how do you expect me to answer?” While this showed that the governor gave his officials liberty and power to carry out their roles, the Mutebile of yesterday would never say that, said one analyst.

Policy analyst and economist Ramathan Ggoobi twitted rather sarcastically that the governor “should tell us [the country] who was in charge]”.

In 2004, a whole chapter in the book, The World’s Banker, by US journalist Sabastian Mallaby, was dedicated to Mutebile. The journalist described him as a no-nonsense technocrat who often told off President Museveni that his policies would not work.

“I told him, look, we know you are going to fail; allow us to continue preparing for when your program fails,” Mutebile reportedly told off Museveni as the latter tried to gamble the country on barter trade.

So, did he hold firm even after settling in as the governor? This is the question that will be answered when the committee releases its final report.

For now, the sitting posture in Cosase has mostly changed from that of level 7 – perhaps symbolic of changing dynamics at the country’s most important bank. Mutebile sat at the first chair near committee leaders, his current and former officials, including Bagyenda follow in the line. He watches on quietly as they are being baked.



+6 #1 Stewart 2018-12-12 13:00
That's just a fraction of what the bushmen came with to the city, more rot are in pipeline and this left me wondering the reason for Luwero Bush war, any peace dividend?,

No. but you find the top leadership bleating day and night about the success of Ugandan economy and the swine that ruled the country prior to the visionary, I think President Nkurizziza put it better.
Report to administrator
+7 #2 Concerned Ugandan 2018-12-12 15:15
Mutebile may be a respected economist but in terms of being Chief Executive Officer this saga has exposed his ineptitude in terms of sound administration and management.

A prudent CEO may delegate but is also under s duty to supervise effectively!

Mutebile appears not even to have delegated but completely abdicated his responsibility as a overall CEO and supervisor to his juniors! He is basically saying that for most of his tenure he has been out of touch with what was happening in his own bank! Shame!
Report to administrator
-8 #3 Treva 2018-12-12 16:43
Another idiotic piece. The headline and the main body do not add up.

The media in Uganda is corrupt and unprofessional. They are going along with a fraudulent attempt to paint BOU as non performing while rewriting history to suggest that failed private businesses were sabotaged by the central bank.

This is total nonsense. Uganda's banking sector is very health and had over 20 banks, which are too many. The inflation rate is good, the economy continues to grow. This is because BOU had done a fantastic job!

These failed banks were each run by very corrupt and very dishonest people, gamblers. From Teefe, Greenland, and so on. Stop trying to white wash the truth. The proper banks are still standing, Barclays, Equity, Stanbic, Standard Chartered, KCB, City Bank.

It is only the Ugandan owned banks that are grossly mismanaged. Katuntu, stop lying to Uganda. Stop your stupid politics!
Report to administrator
+2 #4 rubangakene 2018-12-12 22:58
This bank saga like many others has gone 'stale' the longer it carries, the committee is going through the motions - KAZI BURE TUU; if it were in Tanzania and Rwanda, the lot of them would have been sacked and replaced by patriotic, qualified young and effective individuals.

Ugandans cannot make decisions that's why we are a failed gun -totting 'nation'.

Have some 'balls' for a change and let them spend Xmas in Luzira, maybe then they will see and feel THE PAIN WE BYSTANDERS FEEL FOR THE BELOVED COUNTRY BEING RIDICULED!
Report to administrator
+3 #5 Kelly 2018-12-13 10:42
Trevor, Crane bank has been "Bank of the Year" a record 7 times, not so? And what is Hon. Abdu Katuntu's crime? Asking hard questions?

By the way can I tell you something about BOU? Do you know that every year so many middle management staff go on annual leave but never sign on leave forms and in connivance with HR they get paid for "leave not attended?"

An employee there says it is part of their Christmas bonus!!!
Report to administrator
-2 #6 Treva 2018-12-13 18:46
Kelly - You must be the only person who did not know that Crane Bank was not a real bank. It was more like a large privately owned Sacco.

Ugandans do not know how to run banks. They think a bank is like magendo. You enter for a few years, make a killing, then go and enjoy your Mali.

But look at Barclays. It has been in Uganda 93 years. Standard Chartered, over 60 years. That is how a bank is run. But these outfits of Ugandans?

No capital, poor management, no experience, family business, political showcases, insider lending, bad loan portfolio, fraud, theft, bad corporate governance.

You must be insane to save money in 'Crane Bank'. The only thing Bagyenda cannot explain, is how do you hand over a failed bank to another that fails a few years later? That is not easy to explain.
Report to administrator
0 #7 Betty Nalubega 2018-12-13 19:38
Treva dear ,
if the banks are "too many " and the ones that were closed had been "each rum by corrupt , dishonest people and gamblers" the Central bank should thank the commitee for offering them the opportunity to expose those corrupt gamblers-with documented evidence.
Report to administrator
+2 #8 Betty Nalubega 2018-12-13 19:54
Treva ,

its apparent that you are doing your very best to support Bank Of Uganda.

Hard to tell if you are doing so for personal or obligational reasons . Surely , it can`t be for intellectual savvy.

Whichver it is , the men and women from Bank Of Uganda are not helping you. They look illprepared and cought completety off guard.

It would be easier for you if you separated the "health of the banking sector" from the incompetence of the individuals that are testfying before the committee.
Report to administrator
+2 #9 Lakwena 2018-12-14 08:14
Quoting Treva:
Another idiotic piece. The headline and the main body do not add up.

The media in Uganda is corrupt and unprofessional.

The proper banks are still standing, Barclays, Equity, Stanbic, Standard Chartered, KCB, City Bank. ...

Treva must be an enemy within. He is anti Uganda, anti Ugandans, anti establishment and a treacherous foreign agent collaborator maniac.

In other words, that Treva is all praise for all the foreign based banks he mentioned hereabove; is the reason the indigenous banks have been savagely closed and disposed off.

E.g. how could any patriotic Ugandan close UCB and bring in KCB? It is an insult that Ugandans are incompetent idiots.

I just hope Treva & Co. are not thinking of closing Centenary Bank and likewise savaging it.

Ugandans wake up! Someone is urinating on you day and night and you clap thanking him for the warm shower.
Report to administrator
+1 #10 rubangakene 2018-12-14 20:43
She wants to go for Christmas abroad, oh my God she has 'smelled a rat' (the driver and security personnel have spoken).

Let her have her Christmas in Luzira, what does she think she is; running circles around the committee who who "seem to have no balls".
Report to administrator

Comments are now closed for this entry