By Taddeo Bwambale and Simon Masaba
Former finance minister, Syda Bbumba and Workers MP Dr Sam Lyomoki are among several officials to be summoned by the Police over their role in the misappropriation of sh10b meant for market vendors.
This follows findings by the Auditor General last year which showed that sh10b was released under the presidential initiative for market vendors and small business operators, was misappropriated.
The money released in February 2011 by the finance ministry was meant to be a revolving fund among traders, but ended up in the hands of officials at the Microfinance Support Centre.
Police sources say they found evidence of loss of public funds through forged bank accounts, creation of ghost Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) and inflating lists of market vendors.
The director of the Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Directorate (CIID), Grace Akullo Wednesday said Police had concluded a field assessment and was ready to interview those implicated in the scam.
According to sources privy to the investigations, in one of the local markets officials claimed there were 2,000 market vendors, yet verification by Police found only 800.
The Auditor General's report showed that there were no proper procedures put in place to ensure proper accountability and management of the funds, especially with respect to Kampala-based SACCOS.
"As a result, I was not able to establish whether the funds were utilised on intended activities," the AG stated in the report.
Lyomoki was at the time the chair of the steering committee implementing the presidential directive. Other officials implicated include the then acting MSC boss, Iggy Musaali Rwabukuku and officials in the finance ministry.
Another audit commissioned by the Office of the Auditor General to investigate allegations of fraud revealed that at least Shs180 million could have been lost in shady transactions.
It shows that in some areas, especially in Kampala, memoranda of understanding signed with suspected ghost SACCOs were falsified and there was no linkage between the number of beneficiaries and the amounts involved.
In one case, Jackson Sabila the then head of finance was accused of pocketing Shs106 million meant for 414 Ntinda market vendors. The chairman of the SACCO, Mr Wilson Bikanganga, reportedly told auditors that Mr Sabila instructed him to withdraw the money and later called him to Garden City Kampala where he handed over Shs106 million to him.
The money was intended for vendors to access affordable working capital at no interest rate.
Lyomoki is accused of withdrawing sh20m on March18, 2011 and sh10m on April 15 2011, according to an audit report by PFK Uganda.
Bbumba quit Cabinet in February 2012 after Parlaiment mounted pressure on her and then general duties minister Kidhu Makubuya over City business Man Basajjabalaba's compesation.