The role of Bank of Uganda’s legal department has come into question after it emerged that the Central Bank has spent about Shs3bn on external lawyers in a period of about two years.
The revelation came into light on Tuesday when BoU officials led by Governor Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) to answer queries raised in Auditor General’s Report.
The Committee observed that BoU spent 1.3bn in the last financial year to external lawyers and another Shs1.5bn this year yet the Bank has a fully facilitated legal department with best lawyers in the country.
What is shocking is that BoU has been spending huge sums of money even on basic cases yet it employs about 10 lawyers.
“..Governor what I find quite unacceptable is that even placing a caveat on a property you have to go to external lawyers. I am seeing one here about a caveat,” Abdu Katuntu, the COCASE Chairman said.
He added: “You employ the best lawyers; you have a program where you can even train them; if we are talking about elementary legal duties but you’re running out to external lawyers and you have this bill of Shs3bn, it doesn’t make sense. You would rather grow your own capacity. That’s what other institutions are doing.”
BoU has mainly relied on Daudi Mpanga of FK Mpanga Advocates and Timothy Kanyerezi Masembe of MMAKS Advocate as external lawyers.
They are the same lawyers BoU hired to tussle out with property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia in a case the Central Bank and Crane Bank (in receivership) sued him and his firm-Meera Investments Ltd for causing financial loss to Crane Bank, a financial institution he founded over 20 years ago.
BoU officials were ordered to return to the Committee today with an elaborate explanation on where they are lacking in capacity and what they have been spending on external consultations besides seeking legal external opinion.
BoU has recently been on the spot over procurement related matters.
Recently, the public was shocked to learn that BoU spent Shs125m on 350 branded pens for its Golden Jubilee Commemoration in 2016.