Uganda PM denies knowing of fraud

Mon, Oct 29, 2012, 00:00

THE UGANDAN prime minister has apologised for the misappropriation of Irish Aid funding from his office.

Amama Mbabazi said he understood the anger of the Irish authorities over the incident in which €4 million was fraudulently transferred into private accounts.

Mr Mbabazi insisted however: “I didn’t even know. No money was ever paid to me and I never handle money. As the prime minister I don’t handle money of government at all, ever.”

He added that while some of the money was fraudulently paid into private accounts, not all of it was misappropriated.

“They used it for the purpose for which it was intended although it was irregularly managed,” he said in an interview on RTÉ radio’s This Week programme.

The Irish Government has stopped all funding channelled through the Ugandan government and €16 million in payments due, has been suspended, pending the outcome of investigations.

This follows revelations in a draft report by Uganda’s auditor general that €12 million in aid from Ireland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark had been transferred to unauthorised accounts in the prime minister’s office.

Uganda is one of the leading recipients of Irish Government funding in the State’s bilateral aid programme. The money was taken from the crisis management and recovery account which aids reconstruction in northern Uganda.

Mr Mbabazi is today due to meet Ireland’s ambassador to Uganda Anne Webster to discuss the fraud. He said he had first heard about the misappropriation of funds through the media and later received a message from a friend in Dublin. In the radio interview he said the investigation “was initiated and is being managed by government and particularly by the office of the prime minister and that’s how we detected there was something wrong”.