January 2017 TheMonitor; Three former senior accountants of Mubende Referral Hospital have been sent to jail and ordered to refund Shs200m to the government.
The Anti-Corruption Court sentenced the former Senior Accountant, Mr Henry Okori Okumu to two years’ imprisonment, Mr Kasangaki Aston Kyomya, principal accounts assistant to three years and Mr Peter Okot, senior accounts assistant to four years in prison.
The Kololo based Court also ordered Mr Okumu to refund Shs30 million, Mr Kyomya Shs20 million while Mr Okot was ordered to refund to government Shs150 million.
The court decision came after the trio was convicted of embezzlement, causing financial loss to government, abuse of office, false accounting and conspiracy to defraud.
Justice Lawrence Gidudu held that Shs29, 300,000 and Shs193, 794,494 was inflated and stolen from a combined total of 85 cheques which were clearly tampered with by way of altering the initial figures and words to read higher amounts.
“…I find the two (Okumu and Kyomya) guilty of theft of the money. Accused 2 is responsible for Shs29.3 million from a total of 10 cheques and accused 3 (Okot) is responsible for Shs193 million from a total of 75 cheques,” ruled Justice Gidudu adding that it is not in dispute for Mr Okot to be charged with false accounting since he was the accounts clerk at the rank of senior accounts assistant.
The judge also observed that the three convicts acted with impunity when they despised Doctor Nkurunziza as accounting officer and had no respect for him to the extent that they would do as they pleased in matters of finance.
“I also note that while the convicts were employed to safeguard public resources, they turned around and did the opposite. They took advantage of a weak governance structure that did not even have a board to govern the hospital. They also took advantage of a hopeless internal audit system that allowed them to falsify payments and forge accountabilities,” Justice Gidudu added.
He said, “…theft of funds meant for Medicare which exposed patients of Mubende Referral Hospital to great danger. Stealing from a person who is already sick is in a way quickening that person’s death.”
Court heard that the three convicts while acting as back agents would alter figures and words on cheques to inflate the final amount which they would steal.
According to the judgment, in some cases they would forge the signature of the accounting officer and cash cheques or transfer money illegally for their benefit.
Court held that Mr Okumu was culpable as head of accounts for approving illegal payments to suppliers not prequalified to supply goods to the hospital thereby causing financial loss and abuse of office.
Justice Gidudu ruled that Mr Kyomya was guilty as bank agent for stealing money on inflated cheque payments and signing a forged inter account transfer in which a total of Shs67,645,628 was paid to illegal suppliers and abuse of office.
“Accused 3 (Okot) is held culpable for stealing the money on inflated cheques, posting false entries in the cash book and abuse of office,” added Justice Justice Gidudu.