14 August 2016

Lwamafa, Obey face new charges in Shs15b fraud

KAMPALA- New fraud charges have been placed on the senior Public Service officials who are already on remand in Luzira prison over the Shs88.2 billion pension scam.

Former permanent secretary of Ministry of Public Service, Mr Jimmy Lwamafa, Christopher Obey (former principal accountant) and Mr Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa (the ministry’s former director for research and development) are on trial on fresh charges of diverting government resources, theft, forgery and conspiracy to steal more than Shs15.4 billion.
They are charged jointly with Kampala lawyer Bob Kasango and a one Milton Mutegeya, a court clerk.

They appeared before Justice Margaret Tibulya of the Anti-Corruption Court and denied the charges. Court set September 19 for the hearing for the case.

Particulars of the new charges state that in December 2011 at the Ministry of Public Service headquarters in Kampala, Lwamafa, Obey and Kunsa while employed as permanent secretary, principal accountant in charge of pension and commissioner for compensation department, respectively, diverted Shs2 billion of government for the benefit of Hall and Partners purporting it to be payment for costs and legal fees in a High Court case of 1998.

The prosecution further contends that in January 2012 they arbitrarily diverted another Shs3 billion to Hall and Partners. In February 2012, a similar amount was reportedly diverted to the same law company as purported payment for costs of a 1998 court case.

According to the charge sheet, in March 2012, the three officials also diverted another Shs3 billion in respect of the same case and in June 2012 more than Shs1.4 billion was also paid out fraudulently.

The State further states between July and August 2012, the trio diverted another Shs3 billion to the same Hall and Partners as legal costs but the money was allegedly stolen by Mr Kasango. The prosecution states that the funds were meant for payment of pension and gratuity.

The prosecution also holds that in June 2012, Mr Kasango forged a court order against government dated June 22, 2012 directing the Attorney General to make a further payment of more than Shs3.9 billion as costs in the High Court case of 1998. The prosecution states that Mr Kasango forged the court order purporting that it had been issued by the Deputy Registrar of the High Court Civil Division.

The State alleges that Mr Kasango forged a certificate of costs dated June 20, 2012 asking government to pay more than Shs7.8 billion.

The prosecution avers that Mr Kasango, Mr Mutegeya and others still at large conspired to forge the orders of costs against the government.

The State also indicts Mr Lwamafa, Mr Obey, Mr Kunsa, Mr Kasango and others still at large for allegedly conspiring to defraud government of more than Shs15.4 billion which was irregularly paid to Hall and Partners as legal costs in a case.
The fresh trial comes after Lwamafa, Obey and Kunsa testified in their defence against the charges of irregular budgeting of Shs88.2 billion as civil servants’ contributions to National Social Security Fund well knowing that government workers do not contribute to NSSF.
The case, before Justice Lawrence Gidudu, is set for August 26 for both the prosecution and defence lawyers to make their final submissions.



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