Government summons UK airline owners over currency saga

Monday June 17, 2019

 

Uganda has summoned operators and owners of a UK airline to help investigators understand how unexpected cargo came on board with printed currency on a government-chartered plane.


Officials privy to the investigations said Bank of Uganda (BoU) chartered the UK-based KUENE +NAGEL Cargo plane to deliver a consignment of Uganda currency.


The plane departed from Liege Airport in France and landed at Entebbe on April 27 early morning.


But it was later discovered that on the same flight was cargo of private individuals, which has triggered suspicion of foul play that warranted investigation.


At least eight government officials have been arrested by the State House Anticorruption Unit which has been joined by the police CID for a joint investigation against the BoU officials implicated in the suspected procurement scam.


On Wednesday, the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and police arrested several BoU officials in charge of currency, procurement and security and officials from the Customs Department, airport police officers and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) staff.


Lt Col Edith Nakalema, the head of the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, said in an interview yesterday that the investigation seeks to find out why the UK airline ended up carrying private cargo of different individuals and agencies.


“Our key point is why and how did it (airline) carry extra cargo and for who?” Lt Col Nakalema said.


She said preliminary findings indicated that no extra money was carried into the country, contrary to initial reports that about Shs90b excess money was on the flight.


However, Lt Col Nakalema said the investigators are still interested to know how private cargo found its way on the same chartered flight with the government currency.


“We are informed that the plane did not carry people but we want to find out who cleared the cargo,” Lt Col Nakalema said.


She also assured the public that there was nothing dangerous to the country that was carried on the plane into the country.


“I am not seeing BoU free but they gave us a kick-start to investigate and we are discovering new things. We have not recovered any money and it was not our question because BoU received the 20 pallets expected but we are investigating how the extra five pallets came on board,” she said.


Lt Col Nakalema insisted the extra five pallets did not contain money but declined to explain the contents.


Initially, it had been alleged that the extra pallets contained an excess of Shs90b.
Lt Col Nakalema confirmed that some of the arrested officials were interrogated and released on police bond but others remained in custody.


“It is a wide investigation involving many people and many agencies coming on board. It will take us long to decide on who to take to court and when,” she said.