By Vision Reporters
More Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) officials are to be interrogated over allegations that suspected smuggled goods were imported into the country disguised as those of the humanitarian agency.
Sources have revealed that officials charged with procurement and finance at URCS are also slated to appear before Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department (CIID) anti-fraud detectives to answer some queries. “Some more officials are expected to appear any time to help in our investigations,” the source confirmed without divulging names.
Last Friday Police searched URCS secretary general, Michael Nataka’s house in Munyonyo as part of a wider probe into the suspected goods that were found there.
A team of detectives led Nataka to his home in the affluent city suburb of Munyonyo on Friday afternoon to establish whether there were materials relevant to the probe, but sources said “not much was got there.”
The search of Natakla’s residence came after top anti-fraud detectives quizzed the Red Cross boss for over four hours at the CIID headquarters.
“This is just part of the probe. The detectives know what they are after,” CIID boss Grace Akullo said. Earlier on Thursday, the detectives headed by commissioner of Police William Kototyo raided the URCS offices on Kabakanjagala Road in Rubaga division at around 3:00pm and quizzed Nataka till late in the night before seizing his passport.
However, no statement was recorded on Thursday as Nataka requested to avail himself at the CIID headquarters on Friday, which he did. At Kibuli, Nataka who was accompanied by his lawyers and the URCS board chairman, Robert Ssebunya, was interrogated for the greater part of Friday.
It is not clear whether Nataka recorded a statement or what time the search was concluded given that by late evening the team was not back at the CIID headquarters.
However, earlier Akullo had ruled out any possibility of an arrest. “The bond that was given to him will continue to operate as we go on with our probe unless otherwise,” she said. Nataka is expected to report back at CIID headquarters on Thursday.
Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said Police was investigating reports that Nataka imported goods valued at between sh500m and sh800m using the URCS’ name.
A general enquiry file was opened after the incident with a view to investigate cases of tax evasion, conspiracy to evade tax, conflict of interest and abuse of office, Nabakooba revealed.
Sources revealed that police swung into action to arrest Nataka after Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) requested them for help in the investigations of suspected smuggling of goods disguised as Red Cross property.
A team of URA officials and the Police found a big group of people offloading the items at Nataka’s home in Munyonyo before they called for reinforcement from Kabalagala Police to secure the place.
Nataka has since denied any wrongdoing, claiming the goods belonged to Red Cross and only ended up at his residence due to exceptional circumstances.