By Max Patrick Ocaido
PARLIAMENT. Former Executive Director in charge of supervision of commercial banks at Bank of Uganda, Justine Bagyenda reportedly took a sole decision to sell Global Trust Bank (GTB) to Dfcu, the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) has noted.
The committee chaired by Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu on Thursday queried how Bagyenda, then Executive Director in charge of Supervision sold GTB in 2014 without consulting the BoU, Governor, Emmanuel Mutebile.
It has emerged that Bagyenda first shared confidential information regarding GTB with the competitor-Dfcu before eventually selling it to them two hours after the embattled Bank was closed.
During the probe on Thursday, the committee revealed that on July 10, 2014, Bagyenda and Dfcu managing director Juma Kisaame signed a confidential agreement where she reportedly disclosed the financial standing of Global Trust Bank, contrary to Bank of Uganda Act that stipulates secrecy and confidentiality of information regarding other Banks.
“Did you have consent from Global Trust Bank whose information you were disclosing? And why did you disclose affairs of a financial institution with another bank in contravention with Bank of Uganda Act to unauthorized people?” Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) asked.
Bagyenda, however, did not have answers to the MPs’ questions who wondered why a professional and long serving public servant nosedived to discuss affairs of one bank with another before eventually selling it to them.
“Is it true that you’re the only officer who signed this document [selling GTB]?” Katuntu asked Bagyenda who responded in the affirmative. She added that whereas she did not consult the governor to that effect, the legal counsel, BoU were in the know and she assumed they had briefed the governor.
According to the Bank of Uganda Act, it is only the Governor, Deputy Governor witnessed by the Secretary to the Board who can authorize closure and sale of a bank.
“Imagine tomorrow a driver selling a document on behalf of the bank. Have we reached that level? If your officers are going to commit the bank, then there is a problem,” Katuntu said.
He added, “Did you know the Governor can perform a constitutional duty without powers of the constitution? A constitutional office can never be delegated. Nobody can preside over functions unless the constitution allows, so this business of Bagyenda committing the bank isn’t only irregular but illegal, it makes it worse that she is disclosing confidential information to a competitor, who she eventually sells the bank to.”
However, Bagyenda denied taking a sole decision to sell GTB saying, “My signing on this document was based on the practice that all legal documents go through Governor’s office and the Board. I have never taken a single decision to close a bank that is never drawn by legal counsel. I assumed that they did all the necessary consultations [with the Governor].”