BusinessCrime & Investigation

URA Breaks Silence on BoU Currency Cargo

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has revealed that owners of the cargo which was flown into Uganda aboard a plane chartered by Bank of Uganda to deliver currency notes to Uganda paid taxes for their goods.

The remarks come against the backdrop of an investigation by State House Anti-Corruption desk and police to establish how a consignment  ended up on the plane chartered by BoU to exclusively  carry  banknotes in April 2019.

Six Bank of Uganda staff who were arrested this Tuesday as part of the investigation were released on Friday evening.

The officials from currency and procurement departments of the central bank were interrogated by detectives at CID headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala.

According to a statement attributed to URA’s Commissioner in charge of Customs, Dicksons Kateshumbwa, in April this year, the tax collection body at Entebbe was informed by BOU of an impending import of Currency and requested to facilitate quick clearance.

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“A private chartered plane arrived 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,” said Kateshumbwa.

The consignment was offloaded, inspected and loaded on BOU vehicles and taken to Kampala under heavy security escort.

He further said the same plane contained other cargo which belonged to various individuals / companies / organizations.

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According to government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, the extra consignment belonged to businessman Charles Mbiire and organizations including United Nations.

Kateshumbwa said as per normal customs clearance procedure, “this cargo 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.”

An official told ChimpReports on Saturday that security was verifying the declarations to corroborate URA officials’ recorded statements.

Kateshumbwa said each consignment had its individual airway bill.

Arrangements

“Customs was not party to the airline charter arrangements between BOU,  the airline and the other owners of the goods,” he said.

“It is not the responsibility of Customs to concern itself in logistical arrangements of importers or exporters. Our duty is to ensure that imported cargo through the airport is received and tallied with the cargo manifest, verified and is cleared inline with the Customs Laws as established under the East African Customs Management Act (EACCMA),” he added.

“In this particular consignment like all others, our Customs staff followed the procedures to the dot and we can account for the cargo cleared fully. URA has provided the details of the information required by the investigators and we are available to offer any clarification if required.”

Bank of Uganda on Friday issued a statement saying Governor Emmanuel Mutebile asked for Lt Col Edith Nakalema to investigate the matter after his staff “reported an anomaly in the inventory of the expected consignment.”

ChimpReports understands that while there was no currency loss or extra printing, the Governor informed the President that the charter flight hired by the currency printer breached the cargo exclusivity contract and 5 pallets containing unknown cargo came with the currency and were cleared by URA.

The Printer of the Uganda currency has been identified as French firm Oberthur.

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