We can’t readily tell whether it was done to protect the image of the banking institution, its leadership and, or it was out of protecting their supposed negligence. But whatever transpired in handling the USD1.8M fraud case at Stanbic Bank leaves a lot to be desired.
For starters, since the breaking of this now popular story at the weekly Police Press Briefing on Monday, this website hasn’t published any of its bit. This is because as we still investigated, it popped out before we could join the dots and indeed, as our culture, we took time and here, we join the missing links. Before Monday, the Bank Spokesman Kenneth Amooti Agutamba had sent us a brief which, we felt wanting and hence this piece.
Well, it all started on Thursday February 2nd 2023 when, a well face-masked Tefera Okuba Classie Robel, 34, an Eritrean by origin and a resident of Bunga in Makindye Division, majestically walked into Stanbic Bank at Garden City Branch. Smartly personating the person of Mohamed Abdul Hakim Hussein, a Director at Nile Energy and a co-signatory on the company account, and in full possession of a passport and work permit in the same names, Tefera made a double transfer of USD287000 and 295000 respectively.
These transactions were via an inter-account transfer system. One transfer went to an individual Account at the same bank and another, into the Account of Petrom Limited. The rest is a public story. However, we have since gathered that after the transactions, the Branch Manager, Moses Ayesiga, communicated to the Risk and Compliance Department of the Bank and waited for their action. The following day, Friday, the same Tefera walked into the bank to make another transaction of USD988,000.
The Story of How a Whistle Blower Turned into a Suspect!
Following his instincts, Ayesiga checked to see whether the Risk and Compliance had responded to his red alert. To his shock, there was nothing like a response or any reaction to the same. It is upon this development that he excused self, to call and verify the transaction with Mohamed Abdul Hakim Hussein`s co-signatory. “I am with my colleague here. Please hold whoever is impersonating him as we come,” said Mohamed`s colleague.
At this moment, Ayesiga alerted their security personnel who immediately arrested Tefera and indeed, by the time the Account holders arrived, the suspect was in firm grip of Ayesiga. Had Ayesiga didn’t do what he did, maybe it would have been a different story, without any suspect to show. It should be noted that earlier on, another, suspiciously untold incident, had happened at the Forest Mall Branch.
Here, probably the same person smartly walked into the Bank, impersonated the same Mohamed Abdul Hakim Hussein, withdrew USD200,000 and, walked out unnoticed. Whereas the Garden City Branch story led to other revelations at, and attracted arrests of staff from the Freedom City Branch, the Forest Mall incident remains unmentioned. Reason? Maybe another story for another day. Nevertheless, back to Moses Ayesiga`s revelation of the fraud and causing the arrest of the `prime suspect` Tefera, he, in tow with the Nile Energy Directors as well as the Bank security, delivered the confident and well-composed Tefera to Jinja Road Police Station.
Here, he penned his statement and retired home a satisfied fella. Come Saturday, he reported to work and carried out the usual business before again, he retired home in one piece. However, on Sunday, he was invited for a `meeting` at his Branch, by the regional manager, Samuel Ssewanyana. It is now that he was informed of a need for him to make an additional statement. He left his car behind, joined Ssewanyana and went to Jinja Road Police to do the needful.
When there, he was told no additional statement was needed from him. He was informed of his new status in the case. He was among the top suspects! Upon his arrest and detention, orders were issued for Moses not to be accessed by anybody, not even his family and or, lawyers. These orders were reportedly from KK Advocates` boss, Counsel Edwin Karugirewhose law firm, we are gathering, happens to be Nile Energy lawyers.
Between Monday and Wednesday, police picked more people including the Freedom City Branch Manager David Ssekitto and two Tellers Ritah Komukama and Geoffrey Nsabagashani. The latter was detained at Kira Road Police. Others are three Directors of Famane Investments Co. Limited; Oman Ghebreyesus, Phiona Dede Bwende (a relative to a big-name Army General and wife to Oman), and Elijah Daniel Wanzu.
We are still digging deeper to unearth why this was the case. But with full approval of Stanbic top authorities, Moses Ayesiga and fellow staffers, were given in as the prime suspects who actually, orchestrated the fraud! And indeed, on Monday 13th 2023 at Police Headquarters, the Police Spokesman, SCP Fred Enanga, released the detailed report on how the fraud was committed, with Moses Ayesiga in the fraudulent driving seat!
“The theft happened multiple times between January and February 2023, on the advice and direction of managers, the funds were withdrawn using forged documents… The group in conspiracy with selected Stanbic bank staff both at Garden City and Freedom City branches compromised the account of Nile Energy and effected transactions in Inter Account Transfers and made withdraws using three accounts,” Mr. Enanga announced as indeed, prior briefed. Nowhere it is mentioned how the Bank got a clue of the much-hyped fraud case.
Today, all Stanbic Bank customers, especially those with joint accounts, and the same have since visited the bank, there are changes where, without a practical phone call made to the absent co-signatory, no transaction can be made on any account. Stanbic authorities ought to shallow the humble pie and appreciate that it is Moses Ayesiga who solely set this precedent when, the Risk and Compliance colleagues totally ignored his red alert. And he should have held the title of a whistle blower and hence held as a witness in his own right.
Well, all in total absence of the Forest Mall case mention, the lot was finally dragged to Anti-corruption Court where, they are faced with causing financial loss and money laundering! Following this development, there`s yet unreported tenterhooks in the top management corridors at Stanbic. Reasons? Some believe the matter could have been handled from within, especially where, there was reportedly no intrusion of the bank systems. Those in this school of thought have precedential cases as references at their fingertips.
Also Coming Up here and at the Investigator Online Tv; Delving in previous and more hazardous cases which Stanbic managed and retained their offending staff members complete with promotions thereafter… Why did it take long for Nile Energy to get knowledge of the fraud yet they are Business Online Registered!… Who is responsible for the Forest Mall incident and why!… How a city lawyer has checked Stanbic over losing USD50+K!… How Nile Energy was thrown out of a bank where they had initially wanted to open an account with a USD11M initial deposit!… How highly connected Dede secured a police bond but refused to use it! Who is Moses Ayesiga and why what happened had to happen to him… Watch this space…
- Stanley Ndawula is a two and a half decades’ seasoned investigative journalist with a knack for serious crimes investigations and reporting. He’s the Founding Editorial Director and CEO at The Investigator Publications (U) Limited
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