Uganda Police Force (UPF) is set to quiz Uganda’s wealthiest businessmen as part of an investigation into consignments placed on a chartered plane carrying national banknotes, Chimp Corps report.
The men who have been listed for questioning include MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire and Café Javas proprietor, Omar Mandela.
The duo is expected to meet with detectives at CID headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala on Tuesday, June 18, 2019.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga on Monday said the law enforcement body has so far interviewed several directors, managers and employees on the process of procuring new banknotes.
These, according to Enanga, include the directors of banking, legal and auditors as well Additional statements were obtained from ENHAS, Uganda Revenue Authority and customs officials.
He, however, added that, “Further arrangements were in place to obtain statements from United Nations, USAID and selected business persons who are mentioned in the transactions.”
On the chartered plane, Mbire said he had a jerry can of adhesive for his boat while Mandela had machinery for Mandela Millers Ltd.
“It was only 20 liters of adhesive glue for my boat,” Mbire was quoted as saying this past weekend.
“I bought it from London and gave it to a shipping agent, Allied Cargo. How they shipped it here, I don’t know,” he emphasised.
Mbire further said he only “picked it (unbranded adhesive) from the airport and it was cleared in the normal way.”
Officials said the summoned business persons “are not suspects” but are needed to “provide clarifications and documentation” in regard to the queried consignments.
United Nations and USAID are yet to issue a statement on the development.
Enanga today said police’s areas of interest are “how the need for printing arose, who initiated the request, whether there was approval from the board or not, the entire procurement and supply chain. The amounts and serial numbers of the notes printed and how the non-official but genuine notes could have arose.”
A high ranking security official briefed about the investigation said the entire procurement process of the banknotes was “thoroughly examined” but that investigators were yet to find any ill motives on the part of BoU staff.
“But this doesn’t mean that the investigation is concluded. We are reviewing statements recorded by several people whom we have been interrogating since last Tuesday,” said a reliable official who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely.
URA said in a statement last week that a private chartered plane arrived in April 2019 and as normal practice for sensitive cargo customs facilitated clearance of the currency at the tarmac in presence of BOU Officials, BOU Security, Aviation Security, Police and other security agencies.
“The consignment (20 pallets of banknotes) was offloaded, inspected and loaded on BOU vehicles and taken to Kampala under heavy security escort,” he said.
“As per normal customs clearance procedure, this cargo (of business persons) was offloaded into the licensed bonds at the airport and subsequently the owners made customs declarations, paid applicable taxes and Customs physically verified each consignment to ascertain accuracy and consistency with the declaration and released the goods to the owners,” he added.
But investigators will have corroborate this assertion after interviewing Mbire, Mandela and others.