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Centenary bank teller charged over theft of veteran's Shs 1.5m

Laureen Achola, a teller working for Centenary bank Wobulenzi branch, Luwero district has appeared before the Magistrate’s court over alleged theft of a veteran’s compensation package worth Shs 1.5 million.

Achola appeared before the Luwero Grade II magistrate, Doreen Ajuna today Tuesday where she was charged with conspiracy to defraud and steal money meant for John Ollo, a civilian veteran.

Achola was arrested by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit following a complaint by Ollo. According to the charge sheet, on May 26, 2020, Achola and Faith Aciro, another bank officer still at large, conspired to defraud and stole Shs 1.5 million after opening an account in Ollo’s name without his knowledge. 

It is alleged that when Ollo applied for his compensation from the Luwero Triangle ministry he was tasked to open up an account closer to his home, which he would use to receive the money. 

When Ollo went to Centenary bank Wobulenzi branch, he found another account opened already under his name and Shs 1.5 million had already been withdrawn. Operatives from the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and policemen interrogated Centenary bank staff and officials from the veterans' affairs office in the Luwero Triangle ministry.

The team also engaged a forensic expert who confirmed that the fingerprints used to open the account and withdraw the voucher were not for Ollo. 

However, the banking officials insisted that the account was opened by Ollo, who also withdrew some of the money in person.

It is alleged that the banking officials used documents, which Ollo submitted to the veteran’s affairs office to open the account and withdraw the money. Achola pleaded not guilty and applied for bail through the Centenary bank lawyer, Joshua Sserugendo.

She presented her supervisor, Louis Ngabirano and her workmate at Centenary bank Rehema Kakembo as her sureties for bail application. Luwero state resident attorney, Roselyn Kipola didn’t raise any objection to the bail application. In her ruling, magistrate Ajuna granted the accused bail of Shs 500,000 while each of her sureties executed a non-cash bond of Shs 3 million.

She also extended criminal summons to Aciro, who is said to be on the run. She ordered the accused persons to appear in court on June 28 for the mentioning of their case. In December last year, six Centenary bank employees were charged in court with conspiracy to defraud the bank and unauthorized disclosure of bank information. The suspects reportedly, conspired by deceit or fraudulent means, to defraud Shs 152m from Centenary bank at Isingiro branch.

In April this year, news reports emerged that police was also investigating top executives and junior staff of Centenary bank for the alleged theft of Shs 3.5 billion in forex exchange deals. Beatrice Lugalambi, the bank’s general manager for corporate communications and marketing said in the statement that they were aware of the information relating to the purported foreign exchange fraud at the bank, but said the matter was still under investigation.  

“Our bank continues to maintain a zero-tolerance to fraud policy and remains committed to ensuring the safety of all the transactions conducted by our bank,” Lugalambi added. 

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