A top law firm has appeared to contradict the former executive director of supervision for commercial banks at Bank of Uganda (BoU), Justine Bagyenda’s earlier claims to MPs that there were no minutes taken while clearing the closure of three commercial banks.
The three commercial banks that were allegedly closed without valuation reports detailing their financial status include International Credit Bank, Cooperative Bank and Greenland Bank. Appearing before the parliamentary committee on commissions, statutory authorities and state enterprises (COSASE), which is probing the irregular closure of seven commercial banks on Friday, Kakembo Katende from J.N. Kirkland & Associates, said BoU officials took minutes every time they engaged them on the closure of the banks.
The engagement, the committee heard from BoU letters, was to bring out values and the status of these banks under liquidation to get the most attractive buyer to recover the highest amounts possible of these banks. This was after Kitgum Municipality MP Beatrice Anywar asked Kakembo whether there were minutes of their engagement with BoU officials.
According to the Auditor General’s report, Kirkland was contracted by BoU on January 17, 2007 to implement the exit strategy for the three banks and the assignment commenced on January 29, 2007 and was expected to be accomplished within 16 weeks.
Kakembo informed the committee, chaired by Bukedea Woman MP Anita Among, that all the time they attended meetings with BoU in the supervision department, there was an attendance book they had to sign.
“The people from BoU were the recordkeepers of those discussions. I do not have the minutes, but we recorded our appearances and most of these meetings were chaired by Bagyenda,” he said.
Anywar then asked Dr Tumubweine Twinemanzi, who replaced Bagyenda, whether they had minutes of the engagements. However, Twinemanzi deflected the question to Bagyenda. When Among asked Bagyenda to answer the question, she said:
“My memory cannot serve me right on that. Madam chair, that was 2007 and we are in 2019, I cannot recall.” Kasilo County MP Elijah Okupa weighed in:
“Colleagues, you remember Bagyenda here saying there were no minutes, now we have heard from Kirkland that the minutes were being taken, but they would not review them. So this is completely at variance with what she has been telling us here that there were no minutes. We shall form our opinion when writing the report.”
The committee had earlier heard from the BoU letter, dated September 25, 2007, that Kirkland had two plans A and B, to execute the assignment of identifying and courting the potential buyers. The letter said plan A involved a direct sale to a single buyer and plan B involved a sale to multiple buyers through a public tender process.
“The same letter says Kirkland opted to pursue plan A, but at the beginning, when you were making your presentation, you said it is BoU that opted for plan A and you did not know why…?”
In response, Kakembo said: “I want to clarify something on record. J.N. Kirkland & Associates were advisors to BoU. We did not have decisionmaking authority. In order to go for plan A, we had to get written instructions from BoU, exclusively dealing with the Octavian Advisors.”
The committee will on Wednesday this week hear from shareholders of the defunct banks and their directors. Other banks that were closed include Teefe Bank, National Bank of Commerce, Global Trust Bank and Crane Bank Ltd.