The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament yesterday heard that Bank of Uganda officials dealt with Geoffrey Kazinda, the interdicted Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister, merely because the Permanent Secretary was too busy.
Opio Milton, the former deputy director for banking was being grilled for confirming 121 transactions in which 80 percent of the 13.4 billion shillings was lost.
According to the Auditor General’s report, the money appeared to have signature of Pius Bigirimana the Permanent Secretary differing from the specimen signature in Bank of Uganda, a fact to be confirmed by the signature expert.
In some instances the difference in signatures was so apparent that the staff of the bank would have had to confirm with the signatory whose signature differed before effecting payment.
PAC vice chairperson Paul Mwiru wondered why Opio did not consult Bigirimana whose signature differed and instead continuously dealt with Kazinda whose signature was authentic.
PAC lead counsel Maxwell Akora put it to Opio that he should have certified that the verification was proper so that there is no collusion to defraud the Bank.
The former deputy director for banking, who is now on forced leave, says the practice is that when they notice that a signature is forged, they do not go ahead with the transaction, but they did not notice it in this instance.
Opio clarified that transactions are normally verified manually by two people including a marker and a checker. He said the marker then goes to the electronic system and puts the transaction after which the checker authorizes it and for this instance he was not the checker.
The committee also put it to Opio that under his watch 38.2 billion shillings was transferred to the National Policy for Disaster Management, Crisis Management and PRDP North Accounts.
The transfers to other accounts other than the Consolidated Fund Account were contrary to the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between Bank of Uganda and Ministry of Finance. This exposed the said funds to misappropriation.
However, Opio in defense said central bank officials noted the anomaly and also discovered that the signatures and stamps on the documents were not from the Bank.