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Con bishop steals billions from Ugandans

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In Padre Pio House, a building in the upscale part of Kampala, Nakasero, a self-styled bishop laid his trap for unsuspecting Ugandans, who were eager to invest their money.

Fred Ntabazi, who calls himself bishop, is a short man with a fair complexion and round eyes, which are seemingly kind, gentle and inviting. Some would not be faulted if they thought him cute. He had the trimmings of a man of God: a smooth voice, gentle eyes, down-to-earth attitude and Godly salutations. He would walk into his office greeting everyone with a smile, saying, “Mukama waffe yebazibwe” [Let us be thankful to our Lord].

Little did they know that underneath it all was a conman, a fraudster, who was smiling his way to amass billions from rich, fair earners and poor Ugandans that entrusted him with their money to invest in forex trading with his company, Pio Crypto Center Investment Limited.       

His proposal was simple: invest a minimum of Shs 5m and, after a fortnight, get 10% [Shs 500, 000] every week for the next 48 weeks. This meant that an investor of Shs 5m would make Shs 24m after 48 weeks, and not many Ugandans would say no to that. Drawn to the prospect of prosperity, a chance to rise from the ditch of poverty, many were ensnared by his scheme.

Some borrowed from banks, saving schemes and loan sharks, and others sold assets: land, cars and houses to invest in forex trading. Ntabazi had a calculated method that guaranteed his fraudulent success. He assigned agents, who cleverly picked their marks [read victims] with the promise of 10% weekly deposits from the lucrative forex trading.

The agents started convincing people within their circles first, and urged them to get more people to invest in the scheme so as to spread prosperity to all their loved ones, colleagues and neighbours. And that’s exactly what the unsuspecting marks did, especially after receiving the promised weekly 10% deposits on their bank accounts, mobile money or even physically picking the money on either Friday or Saturday.  

This went on until December 7, 2019 for some and December 14th when the weekly deposits came to an abrupt end. But earlier in November 2019 the, Internal Security Organisation had arrested Andrew Kaggwa, the chief executive officer of Global Cryptocurrencies Limited, for fleecing victims of money to the tune of Shs 15 billion.

When this news broke, Ntabazi’s stalwarts assured his victims that it would never happen to them because their business was legitimate. Ntabazi himself told concerned investors, who ran to his office to inquire about the safety of their investment, that all was well because he had connections to State House. He said, “Ndi wamunju,” to mean, “No one can touch me because I am related to State House.”

Little did the marks know that December 14, 2019 was the last time they would receive deposits on their accounts. Even then, on December 14, Ntabazi called for a meeting with investors at his offices to explain how the banks were against them. That, he said, explains why there was a glitch in making the deposits. He said banks were jealous that people were making money through forex trading and cryptocurrency.

He then assured his investors that after sorting the issue with the banks, payments would resume on December 21. Ntabazi, who was good at buying time, then explained that the forex trading system had slowed down during the Christmas festive season and business would resume on January 11, 2020.

At that point the investors still had hope in the smooth-talking ‘bishop’, who assured them that he wasn’t running away and that the offices were still open, which showed that he was genuine. Come January 11 and another set of lies spewed from his convincing mouth and it was the same line he had previously used, but with a different meaning. “Ndi wamunju,” he said, but this time he meant that no one could touch him in a sense that no one can bring him to book.

The incensed investors, who had gathered to get an explanation as to why their accounts had not been credited, charged, saying, “We are going to sue you.” To which Ntabazi replied, “Go ahead, no one can touch me.”

It was quite shocking to see the veil lifted from his sweet face to reveal the menacing fraudster that Ntabazi actually is. His investors shook their heads in disbelief when Ntabazi exited the room and this time he didn’t have his godly, warm smile, but a sneer.

True to his method of managing investors, Ntabazi’s agents were deployed, but this time to manage their marks. So, the marks kept calling and WhatsApping the agents for any news, a sign that all will be well; and the agents played their part, assuring them that the system will return to normal at the end of January when stock markets were back to full operation.

January 30 came and more lies came out. “You will get your money on February 15th,” reported the agents to their marks. Excitedly, one young woman exclaimed that that would be the best Valentine’s gift she would have ever received if the money was deposited on February 15.

Ntabazi and his fraudulent crew were really cunning and devised a way to give people hope, but not money. He said since the banks, and later the government, did not want people to have money, they were frustrating the payment process onto people’s accounts. He then said he had started a Sacco, Kampala Digital Financial Commodities Traders Cooperative Society Limited (KDFC) so that investors transfer their money to the Sacco because the laws of Uganda were a little relaxed on Sacco operations.

Some marks followed his advice and transferred their accounts to the Sacco, which meant that they could no longer demand for their 10% weekly deposits because they had collapsed that agreement in favour of the Sacco.  

February came and went, and the promise of payment was deferred to the end of March for those that did not agree to joining the Sacco. Unfortunately, that is when the global pandemic, COVID-19, struck and everything was at a standstill. For Ntabazi, this was a blessing in disguise because he got the breather he wanted from investors.

As March turned into April, May, June, July and now August, the marks are still waiting for justice, for Ntabazi to return their money. Some ran to the police and registered complaints against him, but the police said it was hard to arrest him in the lockdown.

Others sought refuge at the Anti-Corruption Unit, under State House, but Lt Col Edith Nakalema sent them away, saying the office had more than enough cases and it was not taking on any news cases.

Ntabazi’s curse

For this article, I was unable to reach Ntabazi because his phone was off. But much as he may dodge calls, his victims hope he won’t be able to escape the law, and most especially, God’s vengeance because some were duped for trusting the man of God, who would bless them with oil when they dropped by his office. His church, One Light International Ministries, was situated on the fifth floor of Padre Pio Building too.

To Catholics, Padre Pio is a saint, who intercedes for them and their prayers are answered by God. Now he must mourn the misuse of his name in that scheme because instead of miraculous investments, the victims have suffered such a financial setback that has only been aggravated by the pandemic.

As they look to God to punish the man and his agents for using His name to lure them, the victims also pray the law of the land will rein him in and return their precious savings.





Source – observer.ug

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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