By Raymond Baguma
THE final audit report into the loss of billions of shillings in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has blamed internal control weaknesses in the Treasury.
The Auditor General said there was collusion by officials in the OPM, the finance ministry and Bank of Uganda. The probe found that officials in the three institutions exploited the weaknesses, which led to the loss of billions through irregular money transfers.
The weaknesses the audit identified include the use of generic passwords by officials in the finance ministry, minimal and irregular supervision by the Bank of Uganda, lack of involvement of internal audits in the Treasury and an absence of Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) cameras.
The report was yesterday sent to the CIID, OPM, the Governor Bank of Uganda and the finance ministry.
The Auditor General also wants investigations to be extended to the implicated private companies, staff personal accounts, districts and banks, with a view of recovering the funds and prosecuting the staff involved.
The audit also established that over the period of two financial years between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012, the principal accountant in the OPM, Geoffrey Kazinda, fraudulently approved invoices amounting to over sh16.2b.
“The responsibility of invoice approval was irregularly assigned to the principal accountant by one of the database administrators on February 1, 2011,” the audit report said.
The Auditor General also pinned Kazinda on other irregularities. Kazinda is said to have, at one time, authorised payments of funds onto a cashier’s personal account, which were described as a refund of money lent to Government.
However, there was no evidence that the cashier had ever lent money to the Government.
Also, there was fraudulent approval of funds, which were later transferred to private companies.
In another fraudulent transaction, funds were sent to Centenary Bank disguised as an appreciation to the Luwero veterans.
Muwanga established that all money transfers made by Kazinda were fraudulent.
The Auditor General also blamed the permanent secretary in the OPM, Pius Bigirimana, for not reviewing all payments made on a daily basis, as laid out in the guidelines of processing payments using Electronic Funds Transfer. This would have identified the fraud.
There were also irregularities in the procurement of fuel, motor vehicle servicing and food to disaster-stricken areas.
The audit further established that the amount of food supplied by different companies differed from the money paid to suppliers.
A total of 23 companies were overpaid to a tune of sh8.6b.
Some of the private companies had no filed tax returns; others had no records of registration and no addresses.
In another irregularity, one individual was a shareholder and director in four of the companies.
Some of the companies include M.J.Z Enterprises (1999), Mbalaba Enterprises (2007), Bimala Enterprises (1999) and ASB Enterprises (1999).
Others are Maliaka, M.JZ, Katikamu, Mbalaba, Bimala, Kapitol, Rural Enterprises and Khadali, Rural Enterprises, Jesus Enterprises and Bulondo’s apartments.
There were also irregular advances and payments of sh2.9b to cashiers Boniface Obbo and Oonyu Isaiah. Another sh767m was deposited on personal accounts of OPM staff.
In one of the bizarre irregularities, an officer procured 50 cartons of salt from a shop, which was later found to be selling hardware. Also, fuel receipts from Total Ntinda were serially following each other, yet they have different dates.
In another incident, an official used fuel worth sh3.6m for two trailers to transport only 35 bags (1 tonne) of nails to Kiryandongo.
Signatures for RDCs, CAOs and district chairpersons also kept on varying on different accountability sheets, which pointed to forgery.
Accountabilities for some workshops had no attendance sheets, making the workshops doubtful.
Also, two trailers from Kampala were hired to transport six trucks of firewood procured in Kigumba to a nearby town of Kiryandongo.
The full final report into the loss of billions of shillings in the Office of the Prime Minister