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Sh10b SACCOS fund saga: Microfinance bosses granted bail

By Michael Odeng

Added 12th September 2020 05:59 PM

Prosecution alleges that Mujuni, Mwebembezi and Birungi between November 2019 and August 2020, stole sh10.8b, a grant from the President, meant for the teachers loan fund.

Sh10b SACCOS fund saga: Microfinance bosses granted bail

(L-R) Mujuni, Mwebembezi, Baryaruha and Birungi being escorted by police officers to court on charges of over sh10.8b theft. Photos by Lawrence Mulondo

Prosecution alleges that Mujuni, Mwebembezi and Birungi between November 2019 and August 2020, stole sh10.8b, a grant from the President, meant for the teachers loan fund.

COURT|CORRUPTION|CRIME|FRAUD

KAMPALA - Four Microfinance Support Center (MSC) bosses, including the executive director, accused of stealing sh10.8b meant for the teachers' Savings and Credit Organisation Societies (SACCOS), have been released on bail.

The money was given to the teachers by President Yoweri Museveni as a grant in 2011.

The accused are John Peter Mujuni, 51, executive director, John Mwebembezi, 51, the head of finance and administration, Joan Asiimwe Baryaruha, 52, a teacher, and Julia Birungi, 27, a lawyer and the assistant credit officer.

On Friday, the Anti-Corruption Court released each of the accused on a cash bail of sh30m after finding their sureties substantial. The sureties were directed to execute a non-cash bond of sh500m not cash.  

Some of the sureties are Roger Erunga Kaifa, the Public Service Commission under secretary; Joseph Nuwabiine, the senior principal auditor attached to the Auditor Generals' Office; Martin Mbonye, a lecturer at School of Statistics and Planning, Makerere University and Richard Ndikobyayo, an employee with the works ministry.

Front, are the suspects seated in court before hearing of their case.


The court presided over by Grade One Magistrate Moses Nabende also directed the accused to deposit in court their land titles.

"The accused persons must also deposit their passports in court to curtail their external movements," Nabende directed.

The magistrate also blocked the accused from going back to their work places unless the State asks them to do so for investigation purposes.

The court was packed with teachers from different schools, who protested the grant of bail to the accused.

"It was not fair to release the accused on bail because they misappropriated our funds. They would have been kept in jail, pending determination of the case," a teacher, who refused to be named, lamented.

The magistrate delivered the ruling to the accused, who were on remand at Kitalya and Kigo Prisons, respectively, via video conferencing. Benard Namanya and Renato Kania represent the accused while Baine Stanley for State.

The accused are battling charges of embezzlement and conspiracy to defraud. The offence of embezzlement attracts a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment, upon conviction, while conspiracy to defraud attracts three years in jail.

Prosecution alleges that Mujuni, Mwebembezi and Birungi between November 2019 and August 2020, stole sh10.8b, a grant from the President, meant for the teachers loan fund.

The four, during the same period at Uganda Microfinance Support Center in Kampala, allegedly conspired to defraud the Government of sh10b.


The four, during the same period at Uganda Microfinance Support Center in Kampala, allegedly conspired to defraud the Government of sh10b.

According to police investigations, Baryaruha reportedly mobilised teachers in 2010 to register a SACCOS with the commissioner in charge of co-operatives.

President Museveni launched the SACCOS at a function in Jinja district in 2011 and pledged sh25b to boost teachers' pay. Later, the finance ministry agreed to release the funds in a phased manner, of sh5b per year.

Although the money was subsequently disbursed, to date, nothing has been remitted to the intended beneficiaries.

There are 300 registered teachers' SACCOS across the country.

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