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Katuntu Defends COSASE Report On Seven Defunct Banks

The former Chairperson of the Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE), Abdu Katuntu defended the Committee report on closure of seven defunct banks for not naming individuals who should take responsibility.

This is after a number of MPs bashed the report during yesterday’s debate in Parliament, calling it shallow because it didn’t name individuals who should take responsibility for the illegal closure and sale of the banks in question.

The seven banks in question include Teffe Bank, International Credit Bank Limited, Greenland Bank, Co-operative Bank, National Bank of Commerce (NBC), Global Trust Bank and Crane Bank Limited.

Responding to queries raised by MPs, the Bugweri County MP detailed the conditions the Committee went through, saying that although the MPs may stand on the floor to bash the report, commercial banks are thankful for COSASE coiling the tail of Bank of Uganda whose officials had terrorized and acted as small gods while executing their regulatory powers.

“We have sat here listening very carefully on contributions of colleagues. We take your submission in good faith. This was our proposal and as the rules say, the right is in this House to reject all of them. We worked under very difficult circumstances especially last one and half months. So many controversies arose; it took courage of speaker to guide for us to complete this assignment,” Katuntu said.

He revealed that they reviewed thousands of documents and only had four days to write the report.

“We did our best under difficult circumstances,” he said, adding: “The debate we are having today, we had it. Don’t think we came out of the blue, some of the committee members were strong that we name. We didn’t intend by any way to hide these names. Some of those things are discouraging for people who have spent months on the probe. We made many enemies. At one time even security was suggesting to give us guards. It is as bad as that, it isn’t a party.”

He asked MPs to use the case of Fox Odoi versus Attorney General whaere court has already taken a decision.

“I have together with colleagues been conscious of the dignity of this report and if you don’t keep this in mind, will this report pass the legal test? That is what informed our decision. If you think it will pass the legal test, go ahead. We have Attorney Generals on both houses and our legal department, they should sit and review this case,” he said.

He noted that BoU officials didn’t have minutes of meetings  and wondered how the Committee could  name people when they (BoU) don’t remember who attended meetings.

“The only names we have are from Bank Supervision Justine Bagyenda and Benedict Ssekabira. Those are the only two whom we could identify during the proceedings,” he said.

He added: “There are people; Emmanuel Mutebile who was the Governor, because he is the Chief Executive and his Deputy, Louis Kasakende. Those ones, we could hold them responsible for not supervising. The rest it will take some professional institution to name them.

If there are minutes, you would say X,Y,Z; can you imagine Central Bank holding meetings to close a bank and there are no minutes? Some said we appeared tough during the proceedings, for us it was more less like a movie. We are really angry, because we were seeing it live.”

He added that the report isn’t a judgment because they aren’t a court of law.

“This is a probe meaning bringing facts on table. This isn’t court of law where we are going to write and convict people. That anger we will have it and we will have to measure it,” he said, adding that they have 43 recommendations in the report.

“The worst about it is that the external lawyers are actually directors of commercial banks so how do you get directors to be principle legal advisors of the central bank against another bank. In economics, it is called regulatory capture. BOU has eleven lawyers all with masters yet even simple things like drafting agreements they are going to commercial lawyers.

The issue of BOU hiring external lawyers should be done in rarest of circumstances and Board must be involved,” he revealed.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga also warned MPs who have been going on radios to bash the report.

“I told them it is of no usage instead of bringing this House into disrepute and it is a habit,” she said.

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