Pension cash thieves seek bail

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Two of the three government officials convicted of stealing pension money in the ministry of Public Service have applied the Court of Appeal to release them on bail pending the hearing of their appeal.

No date has been set for the hearing of the appeal.
The two convicts seeking bail are Christopher Obey, former principal accountant in the Pensions department and Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa, former director of Research and Development in the same ministry.

However, the third convict Jimmy Lwamafa, former permanent secretary, had not yet applied for bail by last Friday and it was not readily established whether he would or not.

In his affidavit in support of his bail application, Kunsa states that due to the huge case backlog at the Court of Appeal, the hearing of his appeal may delay as he continues to languish in Luzira prison yet he has high chances of winning the appeal.

“I have been informed by my lawyers that due to the busy schedule of this honorable court, there is a possibility of substantial delay in prosecuting the appeal. It’s in the interest of justice that bail be granted to the applicant (Kunsa) pending the hearing and determination of the said appeal…” Kunsa states in his affidavit in court.

He also argues that the corruption offences he was convicted of do not involve personal violence and in a similar case of Shs165billion alleged scam, he was released on bail and continued reporting to court as directed until the matter was dismissed for lack of prosecution.

He says that this shows he is a law abiding citizen who will not abscond if he is released on bail and therefore qualifies for bail.

On November 11 2016, the Anti-Corruption Court convicted the three officials of ten corruption charges for having fraudulently budgeted for Shs88.2bn of pension money as purported contributions to the National Social Security Fund, very knowing that civil servants don’t contribute to NSSF.

The prosecution said the same money ended up being paid to ghost pensioners, with the convicts the most likely ultimate beneficiaries, thus causing government a financial loss.

In his judgment, Justice Lawrence Gidudu, ordered the trio to jointly refund Shs50bn to government.
They appealed the judgment and the hearing date is yet to be set.

In justifying his application for bail, Kunsa says he is of advanced age (59), has substantial sureties and is in need of urgent medical care because he suffers respiratory complications which cannot be properly treated in prison and has a permanent residence in Luwafu, Makindye Division.

Recovery process
Two months ago, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) started the recovery process of Shs50bn the court ordered the convicts to refund last year.

Lwamafa, Obey and Kunsa were sentenced to seven, 10 and five years respectively basing on each one’s extent of culpability in the pension money plunder.

The judge observed in his verdict that the scheme to steal the pension money in question was originated in the Public Service Ministry, smoothened in the Ministry of Finance and perfected in Cairo Bank where the cash was eventually paid out to ghost pensioners.

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