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I didn’t know Teefe Bank land titles existed, Mutebile tells MPs

CORRUPTION | Teefe Trust Bank was controversially closed in 1993 and for 25 years, title deeds to at least 23 plots of land the commercial bank had was quietly kept away by central bank officials.

Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, the central bank governor, did not know of the existence of the land titles of client of the defunct Teefe Bank, at least going by his confession before a parliamentary committee on Friday.

“I didn’t know that those titles existed,” was all Mutebile could mumble when queries hit from all sides during the probe being conducted by Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase).

Mutebile and his central bank team have been on the receiving end of queries over controversial sale and or closure of seven commercial banks and MP Nathan Itungo’s query on the status of the Teefe Bank land titles got them by surprise.

“Why have you taken 25years with the land titles? What are you still doing with them? If you hadn’t been called to the Committee, what would you have done with these titles?” the Kashari County MP asked as the central bank officials looked at themselves for answers.

Cosase is currently probing the circumstances under which Bank of Uganda closed seven commercial banks over the last 25 years following revelation that some of the affected banks could have been victims of irregularities at the central bank.

Teefe Trust Bank was the first of the lot to be closed in 1993 with Bank of Uganda at the time justifying their decision on grounds that the commercial bank had become insolvent and efforts to have the shareholders recapitalise it had failed.

Inventory documents questioned

The status of land titles had already left the central bank officials looking like dressed chicken, yet there was more to come as Auditor General questioned the authenticity of inventory documents BoU submitted claiming belonged to Teefe Bank.

Auditor General John Muwanga has been scrutinising the inventory reports belonging to Teefe Bank, but In his report, but on Friday, he concluded that the documents were just examination reports.

An inventory report is a summary of items belonging to a business, and usually provides a comprehensive account of the stock or supply of various items.

Such reports can be used during sale, winding up or mergers of businesses, but a questionable inventory report can lead to questions on the valuation of assets and other aspects of the business during the process, said Crime24‘s Salomon P. Webomba at Parliament.

“The AG was clear in this regard, that the inventory should contain assets and liabilities of Teefe Trust Bank at the time of its liquidation in 1993 yet a scrutiny of whatever central bank submitted for the same turned out to be pre-liquidation assessments,” Webomba said.

The AG’s conclusion compelled Cosase chair Abdu Katuntu to ask the bewildered officials if they had carried out any valuation of the assets of the defunct commercial bank at the time of the takeover.

While this was a query that would punch destroy or uplift the position of BoU officials before the committee, it could do neither, however, since events have been overtaken by time.

Bernard Ssekabira, a banking officer at the time the fate of Teefe Bank was being sealed, saw a breather as, saying the answers to the questions required going back 25 years since majority of the officials being asked weren’t in charge of the the central bank at the time.

“I request we are given an opportunity to crosscheck with the files and come back with the right answers. The answers are surely there in the archives,” he said.

The response appeared to have disarmed a charged Cosase members as Katuntu gave in and ordered that BoU returns before the committee with the officials who were in charge of the offices 25 years ago.

“The law requires a public office holder to account even after they retired or are no longer in office for various reasons as long as they are alive,” the Bugweri County MP said.

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