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Justine Bagyenda’s Lawyer, Robert Kirunda refuses to comment on own possible role in dubious underselling of defunct banks

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An Auditor General’s report to a parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on Commissions, State Authorities and State Enterprises (PAC – COSASE) investigating the closure of the defunct banks found that JN Kirkland, through a number of companies, many of which are suspected of being façades and fronts for Bank of Uganda officials, sold financial assets worth UGX135bn for a mere UGX8.9bn- a 93% discount! According to the Auditor General’s report, the assets included UGX34bn of loans that had valid, legal and equitable mortgage supported by proper legal documentation.
According to the AG, the UGX8.9bn sale price, represented 26% of the total secured loan portfolio and 7% of the total loan portfolio!


All this happened between 2005 and 2011 while Kirunda, was a Senior Legal Associate at JN Kirkland.
So when this reporter, asked Robert Kirunda on Twitter, to clarify on whether he had a role to play in this shadowy deal- Kirunda played dumb, now for 5 days, despite the fact that he has been active on twitter.


Kirunda who is known to have very strong views on government corruption also declined to respond to this reporters inquiries sent to his official email address, as well as his known Whatsapp and Twitter messaging inboxes. This reporter, asked Kirunda, who during the parliamentary probe, represented Justine Bagyenda, if, assuming he had any role to play in the deal, he had ever interacted with Bagyenda and Benedict Sekabira- the BoU Officials various named by a parliamentary probe on the matter for the mismanaging the particular assets sale.


He also declined to respond to this, regardless of a reminder.
Details: How JN Kirkland is believed to have conspired with BoU officials to profit from defunct banks’ asset sale.


According to investigations by this magazine and according to details available from the that in or around 2006, Bank of Uganda officials- mainly Justine Bagyenda and Benedict Sekabira hired JN Kirkland to advise them on how to dispose of assets of the defunct International Credit Bank (ICB), Greenland Bank and Cooperative Bank. It is not clear how BoU arrived at JN Kirkland, a firm founded in 2005, but accordingly, it is JN Kirkland, acting as an exit strategy external consultant for the central bank that identified a US company, Octavian Advisors, a US hedge fund, said to be specializing in distressed investments; itself founded in 2005, who agreed to buy the bad loan book.
Octavian Advisors would incorporate a company known as M/S Nile River Acquisition Company (NRAC)- in Mauritius on the 26th September 2007- just two months before they acquired the assets, on 24th November 2007 from Bank of Uganda.
The assets amounting to UGX135 billion at $5.25m- UGX8.9bn at the time (USD1= UGX1,710 in November 2007).


According to the Auditor General’s report, this transaction, occasioned the shareholders of the defunct banks, up to UGX126 billion in losses. Although Bagyenda tried to justify the sale price saying that many of the assets were bad, the Auditor General said that the UGX135bn, included UGX34 bn of loans that had valid, legal and equitable mortgage supported by proper legal documentation and concluded that the UGX8.9bn sale price, represented 26% of the total secured loan portfolio and 7% of the total loan portfolio.


But perhaps, the sale price is not the biggest problem- the problem lies in the details of how the transaction was layered- ultimately ending back at the doorsteps of JN Kirkland as a beneficiary from the very same transaction they were hired to advise on, for the owners of the law firm and companies linked to them would later be found in possession of land titles, previously used as collateral on some of the bad loans.


First of all, the details of how BoU reached at NRAC as a final buyer are shadowy and so was the valuation of the assets before sale. Bagyenda the sacked former Executive Director of Bank Supervision under whose regime most of the dirty selling happened, would later tell parliament that the price was reached at after what she called “desk estimation”!
In what appears to be a carefully constructed scheme, immediately after acquiring the assets at a give-away price, on 31st of December 2007, NRAC executed a power of attorney to M/S SIL Investments – a company only registered in Uganda just a month before, on 16th November 2007, to collect debts on its behalf!


More suspiciously, the registered physical address for SIL Investments was Greenland Towers, the then registered offices for JN Kirkland & Associates.
During an earlier investigation into the matter, by this reporter, one of the lawyers who represented SIL Investments on several of the loan recovery cases, intimated to this reporter that all legal instructions from SIL originated from JN Kirkland & Associates’ founding partner, a one Kakembo Katende.
At the time, Kakembo, the Robert Kirunda’s boss, did not pick up our calls and declined to respond to Whatsapp inquiries on the matter, despite having read them.


Interestingly, Octavian Advisors closed in 2012, over what it said was a difficult operating environment. Nonetheless SIL investments continued recovering the bad loans.
Octavian deal murky, SIL-NRAC deal fraudulent


The parliamentary probe into o the closure of defunct banks concluded that “the transaction between Bank of Uganda and Miss Octavian Advisors Plc. and her agents lacked transparency and officers involved should be held responsible for commissions and/or omissions which resulted in not marshalling the greatest amount of the assets of the distressed financial institutions.”
The committee further recommended that “the officers involved should be held responsible for conflict of interest,” and more importantly, the “fraudulent business activities being conducted by M/s SIL Investment on behalf of a non-existent Nile River Acquisition Company (NRAC) should immediately cease.”
“The Inspector General of Police is required immediately, on adoption of this report, to seize all the land titles in possession of Mr. Kakembo Katende of JN Kirkland and Associates and M/s SIL Investment arising from their management of the loan portfolio sold to Nile River Acquisition Company by Bank of Uganda,” ordered the committee.
“M/s SIL Investments and Mr Kakembo Katende should render an account to the public trustee of all monies received from the time Nile River Acquisition Company ceased” and that “the agency of M/s SIL Investments Limited cannot legally exist upon dissolution of the principal – that is Nile River Acquisition Company,” further concluded the committee.


Was Kirunda an innocent employee or is he playing Omerta-code silence?


Robert Kirunda has since left JN Kirkland and is a co-founding Partner at Kirunda & Wasige Advocates of the firm through whom he represents Bagyenda.
Robert Kirunda has since left JN Kirkland and is a co-founding Partner at Kirunda & Wasige Advocates of the firm through whom he represents Bagyenda. It is also likely that, he possibly did not know much about this deal and his representation of Bagyenda was merely coincidental, but he won’t say nothing, preferring to keep an Omerta-code silence.
Even when we asked him whether he found a moral dilemma and or conflict of interest in representing Bagyenda over a matter in which he, was likely party to by virtue of his former employment, he did not respond.
Neither did he respond to our question in regard to the fact that following the parliamentary probe and the Auditor General’s report that revealed that the assets of the three banks had been grossly undervalued to the detriment of the shareholders, if he had any regret, he did not respond as well.
Nearly a year has gone by since parliament promised to take action on parliament’s report and nothing has happened, in which case we are likely to never know the full truth and major questions will still linger.


For example, did JN Kirkland actually buy the bad assets for themselves through Sil Investments, but used Octavian Advisors and NRAC Company as mere smokescreens? If so, was JN Kirkland working on its own or was it representing some powers that be in Bank of Uganda. If yes, who are these people? Did the officials at BoU, then deliberately under-price the bad assets of the failed banks so as to privately benefit once the recovery had been done?


Robert Kirunda, as a former Senior Legal Associate at JN Kirkland surely has some of these answers to these questions. And he, just like his former boss, will possibly not respond ever to our inquiries, or will like most lawyers prefer to do, respond with threats to sue this publication and could actually go ahead and sue and life will move on for the former shareholders of the defunct banks.
The sun will rise and set and it will be another day of justice delayed.

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FDC activists win Bank of Uganda pig case by simply keeping quiet

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FDC activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja

Buganda Road Magistrate’s court has acquitted two opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) activists Augustine Ojobile and Robert Mayanja of common nuisance charges.

FDC deputy chief administrative officer Ojobile and Mayanja have been acquitted by the grade one magistrate Fidelis Otwao on charges stemming from their protest held in November 2018 when they carried pig heads to the central police station (CPS) in Kampala protesting the rot in the Bank of Uganda that had reportedly resulted into the closure of a number of commercial banks in the country for many years.


According to them, corruption at the Central bank had been the sole ingredient for the closure of commercial banks in Uganda over the years because it reportedly mismanaged them and made erroneous decisions that led to their closure.

With fresh pig heads tied around their necks and stinking blood oozing across their white T-shirts, Mayanja and Ojobile walked through the streets of Kampala to the police in a protest that was spearheaded by their pressure group known as the Jobless Youth.

One pig head had a placard bearing the name of the former and late BOU governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and the other of his former deputy Louis Kasekende.

The protest at CPS came a few days after another that was staged at the Central bank where two piglets were dumped bearing the name of Juma Kisaame (a Muslim), the former managing director of DFCU bank. 

As a result, the duo was arrested and taken to Buganda Road court on charges of common nuisance and the prosecution adduced evidence from five witnesses who included police officers and Muslims who were reportedly angered by the protest.

According to the witnesses, the actions of Mayanja and Ojobile were annoying to the people whose names were mentioned and tagged on pig heads, and the smell that was coming out of the fresh pig heads was most likely to result in injury to a considerable number of the public by affecting their health, and the protest affected businesses since some shops allegedly had to close to see what was happening outside due to their commotion.

But when Mayanja and Ojobile were asked to defend themselves over the allegations, the duo that didn’t have legal representation chose to keep quiet as their defense and let the court make its decision based on what the prosecution witnesses had testified to.

In a judgement read today Friday by Otwao, he indicated that the evidence from the prosecution witnesses is wanting because none of the people alleged to have been annoyed by the actions of the activists testified in the case or recorded a statement with police.

According to Otwao, the testimonies were based on what the witnesses were feeling as individuals and that there were no abusive statements on the pig heads that the prosecution had indicated which would cause annoyance, save for putting the names of people only. 

As such, the court has ruled that such testimonies cannot be relied on to convict a person because the prosecution has failed to prove that there was common injury, danger to the public or destruction of property.

Consequently, the magistrate has acquitted the duo and directed that each of them starts the process to seek a refund of the Shs 500,000 that each had paid to be released on bail.

The activists have welcomed the ruling saying that the court has recognized that the citizens have a right to protest peacefully.

The pig protests have been commonly used by activists who subscribe to this group known as the Jobless Brotherhood which has since rebranded to the “Alternative”.

In 2016, their members including Luta Ferdinand who is now facing trial in the court-martial on different charges, and Joseph Lukwago were arrested for dumping piglets at parliament protesting the Shs 200 million given to each MP for buying personal cars.



Source – observer.ug

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Saudi Arabia executes 81 people in a single day | Death Penalty News

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The death penalty applied for a range of charges in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom’s modern history.

Saudi Arabia has executed 81 men over the past 24 hours, including seven Yemenis and one Syrian national, on charges including “allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations” and holding “deviant beliefs”, state news agency Saudi Press Agency said, in the largest known mass execution carried out in the kingdom in its modern history.

The number dwarfed the 67 executions reported in the kingdom in 2021 and the 27 in 2020.

“These individuals … were convicted of various crimes including murdering innocent men, women and children,” SPA said on Saturday, citing a statement from the interior ministry.

“Crimes committed by these individuals also include pledging allegiance to foreign terrorist organisations, such as ISIS [ISIL], al-Qaeda and the Houthis,” it added.

Some travelled to conflict zones to join “terrorist organisations”, according to the SPA.

“The accused were provided with the right to an attorney and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process,” it said.

“The kingdom will continue to take a strict and unwavering stance against terrorism and extremist ideologies that threaten the stability of the entire world,” the report added.

The men included 37 Saudi nationals who were found guilty in a single case for attempting to assassinate security officers and targeting police stations and convoys, the report added.

Saudi Arabia’s last mass execution was in January 2016, when the kingdom executed 47 people, including a prominent opposition Shia leader who had rallied demonstrations in the kingdom.

In 2019, the kingdom beheaded 37 Saudi citizens, most of them minority Shia, in a mass execution across the country for alleged “terrorism”-related crimes.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights records have been under increasing scrutiny from rights groups and Western allies since the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

It has faced strong criticism of its restrictive laws on political and religious expression, and the implementation of the death penalty, including for defendants arrested when they were minors.

Saudi Arabia denies accusations of human rights abuses and says it protects its national security according to its laws.

SPA said the accused were provided with the right to a lawyer and were guaranteed their full rights under Saudi law during the judicial process.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Nigerian student in Ukraine: 'Mummy we keep hearing bombs'

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Hauwa’s son Suleiman is a Nigerian student in Sumy – she says the family are fearful and anxious.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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