Three officials from Kaliro district local government find themselves at the center of a financial scandal that could lead to severe consequences. Godfrey Mutome, the chief finance officer, John Wabwire, a senior accountant, and Rebecca Kwagala, a human resource officer, are set to face charges on Monday, January 8, for alleged money laundering and causing a substantial financial loss amounting to sh5.8 billion.
Scheduled to appear before Justice Lawrence Gidudu at the Nakasero-based Anti-Corruption Court, the accused individuals are at the heart of accusations that span from October 2014 to July 2022. During this period, while serving in their respective roles at Kaliro district local government, they are alleged to have orchestrated the transfer and withdrawal of sh5.8 billion from the Kaliro civil servants’ SACCO account, claiming it as a loan deduction.
According to the court’s cause list issued on January 5, the charges the trio faces include both causing financial loss and money laundering. Prosecution, led by the Inspectorate of Government, contends that Mutome, Wabwire, and Kwagala deliberately laundered the money by disguising it as salary and loan transactions, all the while being aware that the funds were illicitly acquired.
This legal saga has been unfolding since June of the previous year when the accused individuals were granted bail by Justice Gidudu. This decision was based on the fact that the Chief Magistrate’s Court lacked jurisdiction over the specific offense of money laundering. To secure their release, Mutome was directed to pay a cash bail of sh10 million, while Wabwire and Kwagala were required to execute cash bails of sh20 million each.
The potential legal consequences for the accused officials are outlined in the relevant statutes. Under Section (20) (1) of the Anti-Corruption Court Act, an individual convicted of causing financial loss may face a fine not exceeding sh4.8 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or both. Simultaneously, Section 3 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act stipulates that anyone convicted of money laundering could be subjected to a 15-year imprisonment term or a fine not exceeding sh2 billion.