Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) Monday rejected the legal opinion of Bank of Uganda lawyers on how to conduct investigations into how seven defunct banks were closed.
This is after Titus Mulindwa, the BoU Acting Legal Counsel wrote to the Committee expressing his displeasure on how it was conducting business.
“The confidential information required by COSASE is available, however, COSASE is advised that the Central Bank is precluded by law from disclosing this requested for confidential customer information,” Mulindwa’s letter read.
However, COSASE Chairperson, Abdu Katuntu warned Mulindwa to go slow, niting that the Committee is uncomfortable with individual members writing to it.
He demanded that all information to be passed through the Governor or the Central Bank Secretary.
“The legal opinion, I don’t know its basis or origin. First, we didn’t seek it. Why? Because this institution doesn’t seek legal opinion from the Bank that is first of all, a big mistake,” Katuntu said.
Katuntu pointed out a case between rebel MPs and the Attorney General saying the matter of legal opinion was settled by the Supreme Court with the Court holding that Parliament is independent and isn’t bound by the decision, opinion of the High Court.
He made the remarks while interfacing with BoU officials as investigations into queries raised by the Auditor General over seven closed banks continue.
“The powers of Parliament are constitutional, the powers of this Committee are constitutional, you just have to be advised to read article 90 of the constitution. So we don’t want to go about a ping pong about what information you think is confidential. Ask us to treat it as confidential and we shall treat it as such,” Katuntu said.
He added that the opinion itself has many problems because it sort of insinuates that Bank of Uganda can hide information from Parliament.
He added: “This institution is the representative of the sovereign, the people of this country we act in accordance of the law, not what people think of us. We are going to treat this legal opinion, not with so much weight. It will remain where it has ended, though I have asked the legal department of Parliament to write back to the legal counsel.”
The seven closed banks in question include Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and Crane Bank Ltd (2016).