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    FIA, Immigration Officers At Entebbe Airport In Trouble Over USD 289,980; Court Declares Them Ignorant On Money Laundering Laws…

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    Justice Lawrance Gidudu who made the ruling

    Ezeh Gibson Chukuebuka, a Nigerian international has praised Justice Lawrance Gidudu of the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court for dismissing criminal charges relating to Money Laundering slapped on him in 2021.

    He told theGrapevine that in 2021, he came to Uganda as a tourist but ended up being imprisoned because of the large sums of money he was moving with.

    Chukuebuka said that Justice Gidudu’s judgement is going to encourage potential investors and tourists from Nigeria to bring their money in Uganda because they are disturbed when they transport it via banks.

    He pleaded with Finance Intelligence Authority (FIA) officials to comply with the judgment and release his money so that he can return back to his home country and meet his wife, children, friends and relatives who he has spent two years without seeing.

    In his landmark judgment, Justice Gidudu declared FIA and Immigration Officers at Entebbe International Airport incompetent and ignorant of the Money Laundering Laws which puts the country’s image in bad light.

    “The reasons for denying the accused a Visa by PW1 (Mercy Tushabe, an Immigration Officer) were not valid legally. It was either her lack of experience or pressure of work. The letter and air tickets are not, without more, sufficient to arouse the necessary suspicion to deny a traveler a tourist Visa. It is not one of those objective factual circumstances to impute knowledge that the money the accused carried is the proceeds of crime,” the Judge stated.

    According to Court documents, Chukuebuka was arrested at Entebbe International Airport in November 2021 because he was found in possession of USD 289,980. He was charged and remanded to Luzira prison.

    Prosecution led by Senior State Attorney James Khaukha pleaded with the presiding judge to put the accused person on defense on grounds that the money in question were proceeds from criminal activities given the manner in he packed the money on his body and in bags.

    He added that the money was also too much and that such money is not usually carried in hidden places on the body.

    Khaukh presented six prosecution witnesses including Maureen Mudondo a supervisor at the Airport, Paul Higenyi the Investigating Officer of the offences and others who failed to prove their case and convince the judge to put the accused on defense.

    Their accusations were watered down by Counsel Emmanuel Emoru of Emoru and Company Advocates who led the defense legal team who noted that there was no proof that there was money laundering or that Chukuebuka’s money were proceeds from a criminal activity.

    He further submitted that the prosecution failed to connect the money to any crime and the accused was arrested not because he was a suspect but because he was in possession of money which they considered to be a lot.

    He exposed the Investigating Officer’s incompetence on investigating money laundering and related offences by ignoring to investigate the source of the contested money in order to tag it to a criminal activity. Instead, they focused on the income of Lifeway Pharmaceuticals Ltd without examining the audited accounts to establish the export value of the company in order to appreciate the trade receivables due to the company.

    He explained that as soon as his client was asked what he was carrying, he said he was carrying money which he immediately pulled out and placed on the table without being forced or searched by security at the Airport.

    Emoru told court that his client even asked immigration officers to take him to customs so that he can declare his money because he had evidence at his country home to prove ownership of the contested money but he was instead illegally detained on grounds that it is illegal to carry money across borders.

    “Counsel believes PW5 lied when he pretended not to know the signature of Godfrey Emojong, his unit boss who had written a report exonerating the accused person of money laundering. He criticised PW1, PW2, PW4 and PW5 for purporting to investigate a case of money laundering for which they not only had no mandate but also lacked knowledge of the law relating to cross border movement of currency,” Justice Gidudu quoted counsel Emoru’s submissions in his judgment.

    He added that there was no justification in law by immigration officers to deny the accused person a Visa because he had a valid online Visa, had a valid return ticket and invitation letter and a ticket which could be extended for any period of time once the accused person was in the country because it was valid for one year.

    The judge noted that it was wrong for FIA to seize and bank money on its account without any supportive law explaining that the money was not found by customs to be contraband and was received without being first seized by customs and reported on form 4 under the regulation 10(4) of S1 2015 No. 75.

    “I find that there is no prima facie case made out requiring the court to put the accused on his defence. I acquitted him of the charges. I order that the money deposited on the FIA account amounting to USD289,480 be returned to the accused,” he ruled.

    The judge added, “The same should be declared according to the law and returned to the accused because so far there is no evidence that it was the proceeds of crime.”

    He further ordered that the accused’s passport to be returned to him and any other security deposited in court for his bail be refunded.

     

    By Grapevine Reporter

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    CRIME

    Stanbic Bank In Trouble, Client Petitions Court After She Was Defrauded Of Shs68m Via Flexi Pay…

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    Stanbic Bank CEO Anne Jjuuko whose bank is under fire

    Nakku Joweria a resident of Kyebando has sued Stanbic Bank Uganda limited for failing in its duty of protecting her saving account leading to defrauding her of shillings 68 million which was withdrawn from her account in a period of 24 hours through Flexi pay an application she had never registered for.

    In a court case filed before the Commercial division of the High Court of Uganda and coming up for directions in the registrar Christa Namutebi’s chambers, on the 24th June, 2024 at 9:40am, Nakku Joweria through his lawyers of Kimanje Nsibambi Advocates contends that between 7th and 8th February, 2023, there was unauthorized withdrawal of 68 million shillings from her savings account No. 903000026244 via the Flexi Pay Banking, a platform of Stanbic Bank and a total of 28 unauthorized transactions were conducted by fraudsters who fraudulently accessed her account undetected by the bank.

    She questions how a savings account which had a transaction limit was significantly exceeded during the unauthorized and undetected fraudulent transactions which led to her losing her’ money.

    “Our client has been a loyal client of Stanbic bank since 2001 way before the implementation of the FlexiPay system and at no point did she sign up for or activate the flexi pay on her savings account. The 28 unauthorized withdrawals from our clients account using four unknown Airtel lines raises serious questions and/ or lapses on the part of the bank for which we hold the bank specifically liable for the loss since it was in a better position to detect and prevent this fraud had it exercised reasonable care to detect these suspicious 28 unauthorized transactions that took place within 24 hours on a savings account that was rarely operated by our client,” reads the documents in parts.

    She also questions the effectiveness of the bank’s authentication protocols with their flexi pay system, effectiveness of the transaction monitoring to the extent of allowing 28 unauthorized transactions within 24 hours using four unknown Airtel lines and significantly exceeding the account limit.

    Nakku wants court to direct Stanbic Bank to reimburse 68 million to her account that was fraudulently withdrawn and pay her the costs and damages.

    On 6th February 2023, Nakku Joweria lost her phones to the robbers on her way to work at around 9pm. She reported the incident to police at 9am and to the telecom companies on the 7th February 2023.

    However, the telecom companies MTN and Airtel couldn’t process the new simcards because she had misplaced her original National Identity card.

    The robbers used her MTN number to open up a wallet on the Flexi pay which number had four other Airtel numbers that don’t belong to her which they used to make 28 unauthorized withdraws of 68 million shillings from her Stanbic bank saving account on the 7th and 8th February in a space of only 24 hours.

    When she went to withdraw some money from her account on the 6th, March 2023 that’s when she realized that her money was fraudulently withdrawn from her account.

    She wrote to the bank manager complaining about the matter and the bank promised to do thorough investigations to reveal how the money was withdrawn by the fraudsters.

    Through her lawyers of Kimanje Nsibambi Advocates, she wrote a demand notice to Stanbic Bank manager to reimburse her money since it was their weakness and fault for failure to efficiently protect her account.

    The bank through Twine Arnold, the senior legal advisor, Risk and Dispute Management wrote back with an out of court settlement request.

    However, the bank had proposed to reimburse only 34 million out of the 68 million on the premise that the settlement shall not be taken as admission of liability by any of the parties, a proposal she rejected and instead thought for legal redress in the commercial court.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    MY MONEY

    Minister Kabanda Panics As Traders Plan To Front Ssekitto To Battle Her For Kampala Central MP Seat…

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    KACITA'S Issa Ssekitto and Minister Minsa Kabanda

    Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) spokesperson Issa Ssekitto has confirmed that come 2026, he is pondering contesting for the position of Kampala Central Division Member of Parliament as an independent.

    Ssekitto revealed that his decision was based on the number of requests he has received from desperate traders who think that the only way to fight bad policies and laws made against them is to have their own in the parliament to argue their case.

    It should be noted that when traders met President Museveni in May 2024 at Kololo independence ground, they warned legislators in parliament who have been passing laws against them that they are going to sponsor their own candidates against them come 2026.

    They claimed that the legislators and other leaders who they showered with votes in the previous elections have betrayed them and it is high time they take over the country’s leadership.

    Sources inside KACITA told theGrapevine that Nagenda Musoke their chairperson also plans to stand for a Member of Parliament in one of the constituents in Mukono district.

    John Kabanda also plans to stand as councilor representing Kampala Central Division on the Lord Mayor’s Council.

    The traders insist that Kampala city and Metropolitan senior minister Hajjat Minsa Kabanda has not helped them as a minister and accuse her of sidelining with their tormentors, especially the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

    Since 2023, Minister Kabanda has been conducting clandestine political mobilization to replace Muhammad Nsereko who declared that he is not going to contest in 2026.

    Because of Kabanda’s declaration, Bobi Wine’s elder brother Fred Nyanzi Ssentamu shifted his interest from contesting for Kampala Central MP Seat to Lord Mayor fearing that chances are high that Kabanda will defeat him.

    Traders want parliament to remove EFRIS and reduce taxes on commodities especially imported items.

    However, President Museveni assured them that his government will not accept their prayers because they are against the country’s development.

     

    By Hadijjah Namagembe

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    CELEBRITY GOSSIP

    Bank Bosses In Trouble For Allowing Sanctioned M7 Gov’t Official To Access Money On Her Account..

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    L-R: Agnes Nandutu, Goretti Kitutu and Speaker Anita Among were all recently sanctioned

    The Western powers have kicked off investigation into allegations that bank bosses in Kampala allowed President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s sanctioned government officials to access and use their financial services.

    Sources in one of the top banks intimated to theGrapevine that their boss has been summoned at their bank headquarters in the United Kingdom to record a statement detailing how the incident happened and why.

    Sources claim that this senior government official was informed early that President Museveni was briefed about her sanctions and when she asked her lawyers what the sanctions meant, they quickly advised her with immediate effect to rush to the bank and withdraw her money which she did.

    “She came herself and withdrew her money and went with it, but we don’t know whether our bosses were already informed about the sanctions,” a source said.

    This bank source narrated to us a scenario where the former Inspector General of Police Gen. Edward Kale Kayihura’s close relative was denied the opportunity to open a bank account in their bank on grounds that his father was sanctioned and their bank was not allowed to do any financial business with him.

    Recently, the State Minister for Lands Dr. Sam Mayanja revealed that retired High Court Judge Moses Mukiibi told him that because of the sanctions, he could no longer access his money in the banks.

    He added that they asked President Museveni to intervene.

    However, the judiciary last week issued a statement noting that Justice Mukiibi is receiving his retirement benefits as a retired judge.

    Veteran journalist Joseph Tamale Mirundi explained that western powers give a sanctioned official six months to clear whatever they have in their respective countries including repatriating their relatives from their countries.

    But Alex Waiswa Mufumbiro, the National Unity Platform (NUP) deputy spokesperson said that the sanctions take immediate effect and all the money on bank accounts and properties of the sanctioned persons in foreign countries is frozen immediately when the sanctions are announced.

    Mufumbiro’s explanation was supported by a powerful security officer who told theGrapevine that recently, President Museveni posted one of his sanctioned security chief to one of the neighbouring countries; however this officer failed to access his bank account and when he tried to fix his ATM card into the ATM machine, it was swallowed by the machine and he immediately called Museveni pleading with him to withdraw him from the said country.

    Recently, the United Kingdom sanctioned Annet Anita Among the speakers of parliament, Agnes Nandutu the former State Minister for Karamoja affairs and Mary Goretti Kitutu the former senior minister for Karamoja affairs.

    Other government officials who were sanctioned include; Gen. Kayihura, Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho, Maj. Gen. Sabiiti Muzeyi, Maj. Gen. Don Nabasa and a number of others including members of parliament.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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