Attorney General, DPP at Loggerheads over Cairo Bank Pension Scandal

[dropcap type=”3″]The [/dropcap]Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Justice Mike Chibita has vowed to fight Cairo Bank relentlessly for its involvement in fleecing pensioners’ dime.

DPP Mike Chibita
DPP Mike Chibita

In an exclusive interview with the Red Pepper at his Office at Workers’ House last Thursday, Justice Chibita revealed that he cannot allow the ruling Justice Benjamin Kabito delivered quashing theft charges against Cairo Bank stand.

“It is not a good judgment for the country. We cannot allow criminals to just go free simply because they can run to another court and find their way out. We will file as many petitions as possible to ensure it is overturned,” Chibita revealed.

He said that although the Attorney General (AG) had advised against appealing the decision, they (DPP) have decided to appeal in their capacity as the directorate.

He likened the AG to a mere lawyer who represents a client reasoning that if a lawyer declines to file an appeal on any case for that matter, it does not stop the client from pursuing the matter if he is still interested.

“The good thing is that we have received information that some officers in the AG’s office are willing to join us and that this opinion is being reconsidered. It was not a final opinion,” Chibita said.

He confirmed that for him and the Directorate, they are continuing with their appeal and if the AG’s office reconsiders their stand, they will find the (DPP) on the way.

Chibita said this in reaction to our Saturday Story in which we revealed how a disagreement had broken out over the issue of whether to appeal this decision or not.

Justice Kabiito in his ruling delivered on January 16, 2015 faulted the DPP for having preferred charges against Cairo Bank and its Managing Director Tareq Mohamad without first obtaining a statement from any of the Bank’s Board of Directors.

Kabiito reasoned that this amounted to condemning the Bank without hearing its side of the story. Kabiito also reasoned that there were government institutions like Bank of Uganda and Ministry of Finance whose officials participated in the scam but those institutions were not charged and neither were any of their suspected officers.

He said that this amounted to selective prosecution and bias.

On receiving this ruling, the DPP penned a letter to the AG then Peter Nyombi now deposed, asking him as the government legal representative in court to appeal the ruling.

Nyombi on February 3, 2015 in response to this missive dated January 21, 2015, he responded dissuading the DPP from appealing.

“I have carefully studied the ruling and I have observed the following; (…)not only is Cairo International Bank a financial institution, but it is one of the largest state owned banks in Egypt. Thus before charges can be preferred against it, one must be certain and confident of the evidence that does warrant the prosecution of the bank. Even if the bank were charged and subsequently acquitted, its sensitive business would be grievously affected which could lead to government paying colossal sums of money in damages and the bilateral relations between Egypt, the owner of the Bank and Uganda cannot be ignored (…). Accordingly I am of the opinion that the appeal against the ruling of Justice Kabiito is not sustainable.”

Chibita reacted by filing a notice of appeal in his capacity as the Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution against Justice Kabiito’s ruling just a week after the AG had advised him not to.

“Take notice that the Director and the Directorate of Public Prosecution, being dissatisfied with the decision and orders of Justice Kabiito delivered on January 16, 2015 at the High Court Civil Division Kampala, intends to appeal to the Court of Appeal against the said decisions and orders,” Chibita stated in his notice of appeal.

This notice of appeal was received by the High Court Civil Division on February 13, 2015. The notice is also accompanied with a request for a certified record of proceedings.

Already some sources in the DPP office have described his action as overly ambitious and “chasing wild wind” since the offense of theft can be proved without  joining the Bank or its employees to the case since it is the civil servants who knew where the money was, the “ghosts” to pay and they went ahead to requisition for it.

It should be noted that already the DPP has preferred charges against former Ministry of Public service officials who  include former permanent secretary Jimmy Lwamafa, Kiwanuka Kunsa the Director Research and Environment, Principal Accountant Christopher Obey, Senior Accounts Assistant David Oloka Japians, Information System Analyst Lubega Francis, Accounts Assistant Stephen Lwanga all of Ministry from Ministry of Public Service.

They were charged together with two junior staff of Cairo Bank though the DPP later amended to include Tareq the Managing Director and the Bank itself.

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