The State House Anti-Corruption Unit and Internal Security Organisation(ISO) have commenced arrests of Ministry of Trade Industries and Cooperatives officials who connived with law firms to steal billions of money meant to compensate cooperatives for the losses incurred during the liberation war and insurgencies. The move to compensate the cooperatives was decided upon by the cabinet in 2015.
In an intelligence-led joint operation by ISO and the State House anti-corruption Unit, Police Today 5th September 2023, arrested Robert Bariyo Barigye, the Commissioner of Cooperatives Development at the Ministry of Trade who was hiding in Runkugiri following a tip-off that he was being hunted for massive corruption scandals involving billions.
According to a source from the Anti-corruption unit who preferred anonymity for his safety, Barigye who is also known as Bob in his circles was involved in a huge corruption act with other big personalities in the Ministry of Trade who used Law firms to swindle billions of money meant to compensate cooperatives for war loss.
The Source revealed that some other people involved are Mpakibi Waiswa the Assistant Commissioner of Cooperatives at the Ministry of Trade, Kavundira Leonard the Principal Cooperatives Officer, Magero Henry Chairman of Jinja Multipurpose Cooperative Society and Lubanga Ngobi the Secretary of Jinja Multipurpose Cooperative.
The source also noted that the scandal involved a more prominent figure at the Ministry of Trade but declined to mention the official claiming that the Anti-corruption units investigating this case are still gathering evidence against him.
However, the source revealed that the Law firms involved in the big scandal include Matovu and Matovu Advocates, Kirya and Co Advocates, Probate Advocates, Makada and Co Advocates, and some managers from Cooperatives that were supposed to receive the compensations.
According to information obtained from the source, in one specific case where the Ministry of Trade was supposed to compensate Buyaka Growers Cooperative Society based in Bugiri, 5 Billion was paid contrary to the Accountant Generals report of 6 Billion which means 1 Billion was stolen. This payment was purportedly affected by Kirya and Co Advocates.
The scandal deepens further with revelations from the Source that indicates that out of 6.8 Billion paid to Buyaka Growers through Probate Advocates and Kirya and Co Advocates, only 490 Million was received through their DFCU Bank account 01113678444848 while a sum of 6.3 Billion was stolen by the law firms and the Ministry of Trade officials.
On another occasion, a total of 5.3 Billion also meant for Buyaka Cooperative Society was transferred to Kirya and Co advocates. Out of the 5.3 Billion, 1.5 Billion meant for Buyaka was paid to Probate Advocates. Behind this transaction, the source has revealed that investigations indicate that Leonard Kavundira, Principal Cooperative officer at the Ministry of Trade had forced Buyaka to sign a Memorandum of Understanding entitling the firm to 30 percent of the money. However, the last nail to the coffin is that the law firm has only remitted 200 Million of the total sum.
Following intelligence reports, the President of Uganda directed the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to work with the Internal Security Organization – ISO on what he termed as “Massive Corruption” in the war loss Compensations to Cooperatives.
The Source said that on 7th August 2023, ISO and the State House Anti-Corruption Unit launched an investigation into the issue focusing on Busoga Growers Cooperatives Union Ltd, Jinja Multi-Purpose Cooperative Society, and Namisindwa District-based Buyaka Growers Cooperative Society. Following these investigations, some of the corrupt officials have been arrested in the Case of Barigye Robert who was arrested from his hideout in Rukungiri.
The source also indicated that more officials will soon be arrested by the investigating units. He also said that measures to deter the suspects from escaping from the country have been put in place.
The source also revealed that this scandal involves some Members of Parliament on the Budget Committee who he refrained from mentioning.
This story was first published by the Capital Times