Ugandans have expressed outrage and called for punitive action after Aruu County MP Odonga Otto tabled fabricated ‘evidence’ purporting to pin Bank of Uganda’s Deputy Governor Dr Louis Kasekende in acts of illicit wealth accumulation, with some suggesting the lawmaker could have been part of a wider project to defame the banker.
Reputable journalist and influential opinion leader, Charles Onyango Obbo described Otto’s tabling of fake documents before Parliament as “outrageous”.
“Outrageous that an MP would present fake papers to a committee accusing Bank of Uganda Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende of selling a bank’s assets when he wasn’t at Bank of Uganda and was away at Africa Development Bank Group. What has befallen Uganda?” he wondered.
Obbo’s tweet attracted intense debate on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp groups with hundreds demanding Kadaga to reign in on COSASE and also institute an investigation into the MP’s motive.
Otto alleged that Kasekende was party to the negotiations for the sale of the residual loan portfolio of the defunct banks to Nile River Acquisition Company at 93 percent discount and that he personally benefitted from the said sale.
However, in a letter to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on December 18, Kasekende revealed he was not around when this happened.
“For the record, the sale of the residual loan portfolio of the defunct banks to a Mauritius company, Nile River acquisition in 2007 mentioned by Hon Otto as justification for his inquest into my wealth happened when I was at the African Development Bank and thus not an employee of Bank of Uganda,” said Kasekende.
The controversial MP in his documents also said MMAKS Advocates, the transaction advisors in the resolution of National Bank of Commerce and Crane Bank, deposited Shs 1.9bn on the account of his wife, Edith Kasekende.
According to documents tabled by Otto, the Chinese company constructing Masaka currency centre, China Railways, deposited Shs 1.6bn on Edith’s account.
The MP went ahead to allege that Tororo district also deposited $71,000 on his personal account.
But Standard Chartered Bank where Edith has an account have since dismissed the documents as ‘fictitious” and complete forgeries.
A review of the documents received from COSASE reveals that all information relating to the operation of the bank accounts in joint names of Louis and Edith Kasekende were based on false and forged documents.
For example, the forged documents do not bear the correct account names or the current location of the bank branch.
Furthermore, Kasekende told Kadaga, the entries on the statements do not mirror the operations of their joint account or that of his wife, Edith.
The accounts do not have credit entries by either MMAKS, China Railway or Tororo District as alleged by the MP.
The scandal has since threatened to destroy the reputation of COSASE and Parliament.
Observers say Parliament needs to strengthen its accountability systems to avoid such embarrassing situations in future not to mention destruction of people’s reputations.
Such incidences, if unpunished, perpetuate a culture of manipulation of evidence and information to bring down people’s careers.
The development came against the backdrop of widely circulating rumours that COSASE members were compromised to harass and damage Kasekende’s reputation after BoU took over Crane Bank.
“I thought Otto MP went back and studied law, including law of evidence. It’s a pity he presented such trash,” said D. Wegulo on Twitter.
“He should count himself lucky; absolute parliamentary privilege shields him from serious defamation suits. I don’t know about charges of forgery and uttering false documents,” added Wegulo.
Baba Aswad observed: “Odonga Otto stands for nothing. He is dangerous.”
Still on Twitter, Arafat Ssaja said: “When some politicians question the Deputy Governor’s source of wealth, I can’t get it. He has had an illustrious career. Ask these politicians the source of their wealth. This somehow reveals their bad motives.”
Enock Musinguzi said President Museveni should “appoint Kasekende governor bank of Uganda already to put an end to this mudslinging.”
Dr Sulaiman Karemera said Otto “must be tried in court of law. It’s because of overwhelming culture of impunity in Uganda that such people don’t find a problem in what they do.”
It remains unclear where Otto obtained the documents which COSASE Chairman Abdu Katuntu allowed him to table before the Committee.
Parliament is investigating circumstances under which several banks were taken over including Teefe, NBC, Greenland Bank, Global Trust Bank and recently Crane Bank which was owned by Sudhir Ruparelia and his family members including Rajiv Ruparelia.
BoU has since dragged Sudhir to the Commercial Court over insider lending, money laundering, fraud and misleading the regulator with false information to cover up his alleged misdeeds.
Commenting on the forgeries, Kasekende noted: “It is very unfortunate that such documents were submitted to support such serious allegations against me.”
Otto has a record of making alarming claims in Parliament only to chicken out when pressed to corroborate his ‘evidence’.
Kasekende has now urged Kadaga to ensure “all these false and forged documents are expunged from the record of COSASE” and also conduct an investigation to establish “why forged documents were presented to COSASE.”