By John Ogulei and Robert Edwomu
The Soroti Finance Trust Bank officials and the District Commercial Officer are on spot over alleged connivance with the suspected fraudster who swindled over 55 Million Uganda shillings from three Emyooga Savings Groups.
The officials are on the spotlight to explain circumstances under which one individual managed to manipulate his ways through to steal the group savings.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in 2019 launched the poverty allevation program dubbed Emyooga. The Program is expected to transform 68% households from subsistence farming to market oriented.
Government allocated initial 260 billion shillings with Parliament approval of supplementaries towards the program. ////////////////
The program is meant to benefit 18 categories of people namely; Boda-Bodas, Drivers, Saloon Operators, farmers, artists, Journalists, local leaders among others.
In Soroti, three Groups in Gweri county, Soroti district are in dilemma after a fraudster identified as Moses Okiring Ebaku allegedly connived with the bank officials and the District Commercial Officer to steal their money totaling to over shillings 55 Million Shillings.
The affected groups are; Gweri County Women Entrepreneurs, Gweri Boda-Boda Operators and Gweri taxi savings and credit cooperative society.
James Peter Omiat, the Chairperson Gweri county Women Entrepreneurs SACCO narrates that the group made the first withdraw of shillings 12.3 million without any problem and on 12th/July when they went back to make another transaction they were shocked when the bank told them that they had withdrawn an extra shs.7.4 million.
He says the bank’s response prompted them to ask for the bank statement and video footage to ascertain the persons that withdrew the money on that date.
He also says after reviewing the footage the bank admitted and refunded back the 7.4 million shillings to the SACCO account.
He notes that the suspect also parted away with shillings 4.1million that the group entrusted him to deposit to the savings account.
Omiat reveals that the suspect is purported to be well versed with the bank procedures and at one point participated in training the groups together with the bank officials.
The suspect is not a signatory to the savings group nor a member, According to Omiat.
Lazarus Engeu, the chairperson Boda-Boda Operators SACCO says the group members are holding them for the loss of shillings 17.5 million which was withdrawn on 4th /July.
Engeu reveals that the suspect before allegedly conniving with the bank and the Soroti DCO duped all group members of the Boda Boda Association to photocopy each 10 copies of their National Identity Cards and sign.
Swaibu Yoweri, the Treasurer of the Boda Boda SACCO also intimates that, it was on the 04th/July/2021 when he got information through an sms alert that the money had been withdrawn from the account without his signature.
On the 04th/July/2021 while at Finance Trust Bank Okiror together with the staff at Finance Trust connived to withdraw money in the bank account belonging to Gweri County Women Entrepreneurs SACCO worthy 7,400,000/= using a forged scanned copy of the recommendation letter from Soroti District Commercial Officer which the bank failed to detect.
The Suspected fraudster also who is the Secretary of Gweri Boda Boda Association with authorization of the Bank also withdrew money worthy 17.5 Million from the bank after he falsely forged signatories of the Treasurer.
The Emyooga policy states that before any group accesses money from the bank, there must be a recommendation letter from the district Commercial Officer (DCO) which letter is presented to the bank to enable cash withdrawal.
Joy Christine Apolot, the Soroti Acting DCO when reached for a comment to ascertain whether she authorized a letter to the effect instead referred us to the Resident District Commissioner Soroti whom she claims is an official Spokesperson for Emyooga Program.
The Soroti District Resident Commissioner Patrick Okumu said, it is too sad that there was loss and stealing of Emyooga money under unclear circumstances.
Okumu also confirms that the bank management paid back shillings 7.4 million to Gweri Women Entrepreneur SACCO account.
The suspected fraudster Moses Okiring Ebaku a resident of Abelet Village, Onyamai Parish, Gweri Sub County in Soroti District withdrew money from three Bank accounts in different days.
The evidence seen also indicates that the suspect withrew total of shillings 28 Million from Gweri Taxi Operators Savings and Credit Cooperative Society after the bank was duped to believe that the group had agreed to change of signatories to the Bank Account.
By records money was withdrawn on 14th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 21, 29th May 2021 respectively worthy 35,800,000/ and shillings 28 million on that amount ended up into Okirings pocket.
But how did this happen at the bank people trust for safety of their money?
Isaac Isanga, the Finance Trust Manager Soroti Branch when reached at his office for a comment in prior engagement before referring us to the Public Relations Officer of the Bank admitted the mess of 7.4 million shillings and revealed that the Bank deposited the said money back to Gweri Women Entrepreneurs SACCO account.
The manager also alleged that the suspected fraudster allegedly obtained a recommendation letter from the Commercial officer which they based on to disburse the funds to various Emyooga Groups.
But Francis Elwoku, whom we were referred to said he was not authorised to comment until he gets a go head from his superior.
He also promised to forward a contact of his boss whom would speak on the position of the bank till press time no contact was sent.
At Criminal Investigative Department in Soroti Central Police three General Inquiry files into the suspected loss of Emyooga Funds in the Bank have been opened.
Gif/16/2021 for Women Entrepreneur SACCO, Gif/23/2021 for Boda-Boda Operators and Gif/24/2021 for Taxi Operators.
Last week, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Annet Anita Among suspended the House sittings for 7 days starting Monday this week to allow legislators to investigate the implementation of the Emyooga programme, an initiative to eradicate poverty in the country.
Tom Julius Ekudo, the Member of Parliament for Gweri County vows to take an action against Okiring who he has termed as Anti-development.
He says that government can’t inject over shillings 56 million in Gweri and it does nothing.
He further confirms that part of the reason they are on recess is to find out the progress of Emyooga and certainly establish how to implement the government new parish model program.
Meanwhile during the process of compiling this report, there has been an aspect of intimidation and life threatening. More insights to this story still to come