Uganda Police Force (UPF) has revealed details of how fraudsters gained unauthorized access to a company’s account in Stanbic Bank and withdrew about $1.8m (about Shs6.6bn). Working with Stanbic Bank Uganda’s Fraud Department, Police’s Special Investigations Division has been investigating the fraud and has managed to identify those suspected of taking part, some of who have already been arrested.
According to Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga, nine suspects have been arrested in connection to the fraud and were expected to appear before Kololo-based Anti-Corruption Division. The suspects and others still on the run are accused of making unauthorised transfers of the Shs6.6bn into other bank accounts. Enanga says the accounts were “established solely for the purpose of receiving the stolen funds.”
The police spokesperson further noted that “at the direction of the Branch Managers, the funds were withdrawn and stolen, using forged documents,” including a Kenyan Passport number AK 0849025 and forged inter Account Transfer Forms, all in the names of Mohamed Abdul Hakim Hussein, one of the Company Directors and a signatory of the Account of Nile Energy.
“The suspects 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 (IAT) and made withdraws using 3 accounts that included; Account Number 9030012835107 in the names of Dixon Kagurusi Ampumuza; Account Number 9030021572615 in the names of Petrom Limited and Account Number 9030018628871 in the names of Famane Investments Co. Ltd,” Enanga explained.
“At least seven cash withdrawals of USD 495,000, USD 287,000 USD 295,000, USD 90,000, USD 60.000, USD 295,000 and USD 495,000 were made by the suspects, purporting to be Mohamed Abdul Hakim Hussein, the Director of Nile Energy, while using forged documents. It was also established that Petron Limited belongs to a one Oscar Kyabukasa Lutaaya and Hashur Rahman, as the Directors, while Famane Investments Co. Ltd, is owned by Oman Ghebreyesus, Fiona Dede Bwende and Elijah Daniel Wanzu as Directors, at Freedom City Branch and Garden City Branch.”
He went on to reveal that on January 24, 2023, $295,000 was deposited to Account Number 9030018628871 in the names of Famane Investments Co. Ltd, from Nile Energy Account. This money was withdrawn against a cheque signed by Oman Ghebreyesus and Elijah Daniel Wanzu.
Enanga added: “An additional USD 250,000 was also withdrawn on the same day, and Shs139m, deposited into Account Number 9030019904244 in the names of Fiona Dede Bwende, who is also a Director of Famane Investments. Another transaction of USD 782,000 was made from Nile Energy to the Account of Petrom Ltd, whose Director Dixon Ampumuza Kagurusi is still on the run. The transfers were made in two instalments of USD 495.000 and USD 287.000 respectively and deposited into Account Number 9030021572615 of Petrom Ltd, that was withdrawn immediately.”
The police spokesperson further revealed that on February 03, 2023, a one Tefera Okubalassie Robert, an Eritrean Refugee, was intercepted with two Inter Account Transfer forms, with a face value of $988,200, that was to be effected from the Nile Energy Account and thereafter, credited into an Account Number in the names of Dixon Kagurusi Ampumuza, the Director of Petrom Ltd.
The suspect, continued Enanga, also had in his possession a Kenyan Passport Number AK 0849025 in the names of Mohamed Abduhakim Hussein, which prompted the bank to verify with the Account holders, who denied any authorizations. The suspect was arrested and found with $4900 and Shs600,000 in his possession, which money was exhibited.
Police has since arrested a total of 12 people, nine of whom were ready for arraignment in court. The nine are facing charges of causing financial loss and money laundering. These are: Tefera Okubalassie Robert, who was intercepted with a forged passport and funds transfer form in the bank; Moses Ayusiga, the branch Manager of Stanbic Bank, Garden City Branch, who allegedly effected the two transfers of $287,000 and 295,000 from Nile Energy Account to Petrom Ltd in a fraudulent and illegal manner; Brian Natukunda, a former employee of Stanbic Bank, who introduced Dixon Kagurusi Ampumuza to Moses Ayusiga; the 3 Directors of Famane Investments Co. Ltd: Oman Ghebreyesus, Fiona Dede Bwende and Elijah Daniel Wanzu, in whose company account number money was received. According to Enanga, when these were quizzed, they admitted to having received the stolen cash and used the same in gold transaction of $250,000 with Mansoor and Sam Fred, but no supporting documents were provided to support the alleged transaction.
The other suspect already facing prosecution is David Ssekito, the Manager at Freedom City Branch. Enanga also said other charges of forgery and utterance of forged documents were being processed and that “efforts are also in place, to trace a one Dixon Ampumuza Kagurusi, the Director of Petrom Ltd, who is still in hiding.”
Police has now sent a clear warning to fraudsters, telling them their days were numbered; and urging banks and clients to be more vigilant.
“These arrests send a clear and unmistakable message to those who conspire to exploit the banking systems to steal client’s deposits and services, not to use their positions and user rights, to steal from hard working citizens and investors. We want to thank the Management of Stanbic Bank (U), for boldly coming out to fight this kind of bank fraud. Most bank frauds and conspiracies involves bankers and other conspirators, who identify bank customers with high cash balances and steal it, after compromising the accounts thus putting the bank at a huge loss,” said Enanga.
“We urge all banks and customers to have protective measures and a culture in place to identify potential misuse of computer information and alert the Economic Crimes and Anti-Corruption Division at CID Headquarters. We also realised that fighting bank fraud requires both the adoption of good practice, and genuine partnerships between the Bank and its clients. Better prevention, detection and recovery of fraud, will help reduce client phobia on their bank deposits and savings.