KAMPALA – Former National Social Security Fund – NSSF Managing Director, Richard Byarugaba could be headed for serious trouble after Parliament’s select committee confiscated his phone on Friday – handing the same to the Criminal Investigations Department – CID for analytical study.
The Committee was instituted to investigate the operations of NSSF – where Byarugaba had served for several years – seemingly presiding over fraudulent transactions during his reign.
Byarugaba’s phone and that of the Chief Financial Officer, Stevens Mwanje was passed over to CID for forensic investigation – specifically in regard to a Ugx1.8b budget for Corporate Social Investment – CSI.
Mwine Mpaka, the committee chair made the directive after the two officials offered contrary statements regarding the formulation and breakdown of the said budget.
Before the probe into the budget started, the committee learned that Ugx1b out of the Ugx1.8b budget for Corporate Social Investment was allocated to the NSSF board members to drum-up the relevance of the Fund.
Mpaka tasked Byarugaba to substantiate claims by the NSSF Board that the Ugx1b budget was his making.
The Board members – according to Mpaka had told his committee that they did not request the money and that it was Byarugaba who had brought up the issue.
Bwamba County MP, Richard Gafabusa also asked how the budget was generated, and to this, Byarugaba said that Corporate Social Investment was an idea of the Board and that the breakdown of Ugx1.8b was agreed upon in bulk.
He further explained that out of the Ugx1.8b, Ugx800m was identified for workers’ unions to enable them to carry out financial literacy activities.
But when Mpaka asked the Chief Financial Officer, Stevens Mwanje to explain if he had received a directive from Byarugaba to include the said money in the Fund budget, he acknowledged the directive – adding the former MD was equally getting a lot of pressure from ‘above.’
However, Byarugaba insisted that the NSSF finance department had generated the breakdown of the Ugx1b – a statement that prompted MP Mpaka to question whether the Chief Financial Officer was telling lies to the committee. Byarugaba explained that his role was not to generate the breakdown of the money and that he had received the breakdown via a WhatsApp message from Mwanje.
At this point, the select committee chairperson demanded to view the message on Byarugaba’s mobile phone and he informed the members that on May 4, 2022, at 10:00 pm, Mwanje had sent the breakdown to Byarugaba.
But Mwanje denied knowledge of the message, forcing the select committee to demand that he hands over his phone. After viewing his phone, Mpaka said that Mwanje seemed to have deleted the record between April 30 and May 6, 2022 – given that the message is reflected on Byarugaba’s phone.
In response, Mwanje said that financial slides were generated by his team and that he had asked if they generated the same and they denied it.
This forced Mpaka to direct CID officers attached to the select committee to take the duo’s phones for forensic examination. Mpaka said that the process was to enable them to determine the source of the message.
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