There was drama in Parliament Tuesday afternoon after it emerged that Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda’s son and a top cleric are running Schemes allegedly conning Ugandans their hard-earned money.
This came out as MPs debated a statement tabled by David Bahati, Minister of State for Planning on the fraud surrounding cryptocurrency and pyramid schemes.
It emerged that Rugunda’s son, Kwame Rugunda (pictured) and a top bishop are among people running the schemes that have seen many Ugandans lose money.
In his statement to Parliament, Minister Bahati said that Ponzi and pyramid Schemes involve dishonest investors taking advantage of innocent individuals by encouraging them to invest their savings into ventures – that have no underlying product, with a promise of extraordinary returns
“The Bank of Uganda and Ministry of Finance have through the media advised the general Public on the risks associated with cryptocurrency. We continue to advise the public to desist from investing in cryptocurrencies, since they are yet to be supervised & regulated,” Bahati said.
He added that Cryptocurrency is often wrongly perceived to be the same as ponzi and pyramid schemes, adding that both schemes are fraudulent investment scams promising high rates of return of between 30%-40% with little or no indication of risk to investors.
He noted that Ponzi and Pyramid schemes reward investors mainly through new recruitments, with no underlying commensurate production of goods and services and that the Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs is working to amend the Penal Code Act to criminalize ponzi and pyramid schemes.
However, some MPs rejected a statement tabled by Bahati, blaming the Ministry of Finance for not working hard to protect Ugandans from fraudsters.
Western Region Youth Representative MP, Mwine Mpaka rejected the submission by Bahati saying Uganda doesn’t need a Committee headed by former Minister John Nasasira to investigate the matter because the Financial Intelligence Authority submitted a list of 13 companies operating in Uganda and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda promised to close the companies, but nothing has been done.
Without mentioning names, Mwine called out Minister Bahati to stop duping Ugandans because a son to one of the cabinet members is managing one of the biggest schemes in the country.
“The ministry actually knows these companies and is keeping quiet. One bishop is operating one company and is using church to hire people and is guarded by Uganda Police,” he said.
It was Rubaga North MP, Moses Kasibante who brought forward Kwame’s name.
However, Minister Bahati said he is involved in blockchain technology not pyramid schemes.
“It is true Kwame is son to Prime Minister Rugunda and he has organized conferences of block chain technology. He isn’t involved in pyramid schemes; he is involved in block chain technology,” Bahati said.
On his Linked In page, Kwame describes himself as Technology entrepreneur with an interest in emerging technologies, particularly those designed to address the challenges of global development.
The Electrical Engineer and Mathematician by training with experience in telecommunications, civic technology, and management consulting for governments, Kwame has worked with United Nations and several private and non-profit organizations throughout Africa.
He claims to have had an early exposure to the 4th industrial revolution due to interest in technology and innovation, with a particular interest in blockchain and its applications and is keen on making ubiquitous the role of blockchain innovation throughout Africa.
He is the CEO of CryptoSavannah, a firm focused on solutions, advisory and training in blockchain technology.
Another MP, Waira Majegere asked Bahati to speak with authority and questioned Nasasira’s competence to investigate cryptocurrency remarking, “If you aren’t clear with these financial systems, you stop them. The systems they are talking about don’t have physical address. This is technology we are talking about, now he (Nasasira) is heading brains who say the systems are in cloud nine.”
He was backed by Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (Kasambya County) saying Nasasira was born before computer and that Government should have thought about someone who is well versed with computer because this is cloud money.
Bugweri County MP, Abdu Katuntu, who is representing some of the victims conned in court said that stories of most of the people are heartbreaking and that the biggest challenge facing Uganda is lack of consumer protection at hands of government agencies.
“We need to protect the most vulnerable of our society. You come cheat the people as you want and go away. This is criminal, these are people who should be somewhere in jail. We just need a serious government enforcement agency to make sure this doesn’t happen again. That committee will come to nothing,” he said.
Minister Bahati promised to return and Parliament on steps taken by Government to ban these companies.