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CHOGM probe: MPs send away Quarcoo, Rwabogo

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd February 2010 03:00 AM

THE managers of Saatchi and Saatchi and Terp Consult were yesterday thrown out of the public accounts committee for failure to produce two key witnesses required in the CHOGM probe.

THE managers of Saatchi and Saatchi and Terp Consult were yesterday thrown out of the public accounts committee for failure to produce two key witnesses required in the CHOGM probe.

By Milton Olupot and Mary Karugaba

THE managers of Saatchi and Saatchi and Terp Consult were yesterday thrown out of the public accounts committee for failure to produce two key witnesses required in the CHOGM probe.

The committee refused to take evidence from Saatchi and Saatchi chairman Patrick Quarcoo and Terp Consult director Odrek Rwabwogo, demanding that the two witnesses be present.

The witnesses, Moses Zikusooka, the former project manager of Saatchi and Saatchi, and Vincent Okema, the finance manager of Terp Consult, went into hiding after receiving the invitation to appear before the committee.

They were expected to explain the irregularities in the award and expenditure of the sh2.4b publicity contract, which involved erecting billboards, making flyers and promotional programmes in the media.

The MPs also discovered that although the evaluation committee had recommended the contract price of sh1.8b, the contract committee revised it to sh2.4b.

Charles Odere, the lawyer representing the two companies, reported to the committee that he had tried to convince the two witnesses who managed the CHOGM funds to appear before the committee but they had refused.

Odere said Quarcoo and Rwabogo were competent to give information.

“The chairman of Saatchi is here to give you what transpired, he has no hearsay,” he pleaded.

He said denying the two an opportunity to be heard was tantamount to denying them justice.

But the committee, chaired by Nandala Mafabi, rejected his pleas.

“We want the men who implemented the operations. You gave Zikusooka powers of attorney and he transacted the business. These people have stayed away deliberately. You knew the gravity of this matter so you left them behind,” he said.

The two have since left the companies, the committee learnt. But when Mafabi asked Quarcoo and Rwabwogo when their employees quit, they could not state the exact dates.

Quarcoo denied allegations that they were uncooperative.

“We requested to appear before this committee. There is no way we can be uncooperative. I would like to assure this August House that we are cooperating and we would like to assist this committee arrive at a just conclusion,” he said.

Rwabwogo said it was urgent that they cleared some of the issues that had been misrepresented in the media and had affected their businesses.

The MPs blamed Odere for failure to inform the committee in time that the witnesses had refused to appear.

“This is contempt of Parliament. If you informed us that you had failed, I would have dispatched the Police immediately to pick them,” Mafabi said.

According to the contract, Saatchi and Saatchi was required to get sponsorship for media events. It was expected to collect sh1.2b, according to the Auditor General’s report.

However, after CHOGM, the company informed the ministry that it was only able to collect sh360m, or about a quarter of the expected income.

Of this, it said, it had given sh148m to the Business Forum and used another sh159m at source, leaving only sh34m to be remitted to the Government after deducting their collection fee of 10%.

But the Auditor General noted that the company did not have the authority or approval to spend the money collected, and that the funds remained unaccounted for.

CHOGM probe: MPs send away Quarcoo, Rwabogo

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