PARLIAMENT yesterday questioned six National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) officials over missing funds amounting to sh140m.
NARO executive director Dennis Kyetere said the money was â€˜stolenâ€™ by the former cashier, Hilda Litta, from Kawanda Research Institute in the 2006/7 financial year. Litta died of pneumonia in 2007.
The money was transferred from NARO to the Agriculture Research Information Centre in Kawanda for the development and recurrent budget.
The Auditor Generalâ€™s report to Parliament showed that out of the sh140m recurrent and development expenditure, sh93m went missing in one financial year.
â€œShe would forge bank statements, which misled officials reviewing her work,â€ Kyetere said, quoting an investigation report.
NARO chief internal auditor Hussein Dalia told the committee that the fraud was hard to detect because NARO operates about 82 bank accounts, making it difficult to monitor all the transactions.
But the members wondered how the money could be stolen without the knowledge the project coordinator, Joyce Adupa, the then director Dr. Matthias Magumba, senior finance officer Ignatius Nsanze, accounts assistant Francis Ssentumbwe, resident internal auditor Harriet Lukooto and the chief internal auditor, Dalia.
â€œHow could such a crime be committed without your knowledge yet some of you were signatories to the accounts?â€ committee chairperson Nandala Mafabi asked.
MPs Tom Kazibwe, Frank Tumwebaze and Saleh Kamba said the fraud was a result of gross mismanagement and negligence by the management and the board.
Adupa said: â€œI was signatory to the accounts, but I never detected any forgery though I used to look at the documents.
â€œI only saw the problem later. This is because I have never had any training or orientation in financial management. I am just an agriculturalist.â€
The committee said all the officials involved in the management of the funds should be held responsible and interdicted.
NARO officials grilled over funds