Ugandan Government Official Jailed For Stealing Donor Funds

Geoffrey Kazinda the former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister

Geoffrey Kazinda the former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister

KAMPALA – A Ugandan Government official has been jailed for embezzling US$5M donated by the international community.

Geoffrey Kazinda the former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM),was this morning sentenced to 5 years in prison by the Anti Corruption Court sitting in Kampala.

Justice David Wangutusi sentenced Kazinda to five years imprisonment for abuse of office, 2 years for forgery and another two years for unlawful possession of government stores.

The judge said the sentences will run concurrently.On Wednesday last week, Justice Wangutusi fou

nd Kazinda guilty of 29 counts of fraud with one count of forgery being an alternative count.The judge however, reserved the sentencing to today. The heart to this fraud is that Kazinda who has been on remand since October last year was found guilty of forging 26 signatures of his then boss and former Permanent Secretary in the Office of Prime Minister (OPM), Mr Pius Bigirimana with the intention to defraud the OPM of billions of shillings.

Court relied on circumstantial evidence to directly link Kazinda to forgery since there was no witness who saw him forge Mr Bigirimana’s signature.

The documents that he forged included; Security Papers and Withdraw Forms (both very high sensitive documents that are used in transfer of huge sums of money), were recovered by police from the home of Kazinda’s mother in Bukoto, Kampala after a search.

However, no money was lost in this case although prosecution says he had intentions of defrauding the OPM if the situation had not been arrested early.

During mitigation, Principal State Attorney, Ms Jane Frances Abodo, asked court to hand Mr Kazinda the maximum custodial sentence of seven years to send a strong signal to those involved in corruption since it is on the rise.

Ms Abodo noted that the fact that  Kazinda had in possession of government property at his mother’s home, indicated that there was an intention to defraud donor and the tax payers’ money.

She also asked court to put into consideration the fact that the office of the Prime Minister is a sensitive office since its accommodates the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and the First Lady, Ms Janet Museveni.

In rebuttal, defense lawyers led by Augustine Idoot, asked court to give their client a lenient sentence, preferably a fine instead of the custodial one.

Idoot explained to court that no money was lost in this case.

It’s not all over for Mr Kazinda since he faces two different files (cases) before the lower court.

In the first case, Mr Kazinda is charged along with three ministry of Finance officials; Mr Bright Atwiine, Mr David Mugisha and Mr Wilbert Okello.

They are accused of diverting public resources to their personal gain. The money amounting to Shs20 billion, was meant for Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) funds. The case is at the lower court before Chief Magistrate Irene Akankwasa.

In another file, Kazinda along with three others; Mr John Owor, the Commissioner for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Management and Ms Beatrice Kezabu, the assistant resettlement officer, in the OPM for false accountability for Shs316 million for financial year 2019/11.

Also charged is businessman, Hussein Katumwa, the station manager of Total Fuel Station Ntinda.

The money in question had been entrusted to them for procurement of fuel and lubricant for vehicles delivering relief food items to various areas.

Justice Wangutusi explained that he had arrived at today’s ruling after considering the unstable health of Kazinda, his stay on remand for 8 months and being a head of a family. He also said Kazinda was repentant and had shown remorse for his actions. He advised Kazinda to appeal to a higher court if he is dissatisfied with the judgment.

Kazinda has two more separate files before the lower court in which he is accused of swindling billions of shillings from OPM meant for the implementation of the Peace Recovery and Development Plan-PRDC in districts affected by war.

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