BoU probe. The former Bank of Uganda director for banks supervision was yesterday taken through CCTV footage that captured her ferrying documents from BoU premises. In her defence, Ms Bagyenda argued that she was not aware that her actions were in breach of security protocols at the central bank. Solomon Arinaitwe relays what transpired.
Abdu Katuntu [Committee chairman]: You have noted the dates where we have seen security breaches. Your bodyguard identified one of your visitors, the other was not identified. May we know who that visitor is?
Justine Bagyenda [former Bank of Uganda director for banks supervision]: It is the Managing Director of Bank of Baroda. Mr Ahhrini Kumara
Katuntu: Colleagues, lest have any clarifications you are seeking from Ms Bagyenda.
Anita Among [vice-chairperson, Bukedea Woman MP]: To the director security, is it a common practice that your staff enter bank premises without passing through searches?
Milton Opio-Orech [director security, BoU]: It is not a normal practice.
Among: What does your Human Resource (HR) manual say in regard to that?
Opio-Orech: All vehicles entering the bank should be searched.
Among: After finding out that they were not searched, what did you do?
Opio-Orech: Some of these things came out when we were doing our investigations and we are still continuing our investigations.
Among: Who is directly responsible for access rights and for these kinds of searches?
Opio-Orech: We have a structure in the bank. We have somebody who is in charge of all the security assistants. We also have a deputy director in-charge of operations who supervises.
Among: In this case, who was supposed to be responsible for that?
Opio-Orech: The whole group was supposed to be responsible.
Michael Tusiime [Mbarara Municipality]: To Ms Bagyenda, the Bank manual gives the category of the time to access the bank and particularly so for non-staff and visitors. They are supposed to access the bank Monday-Friday between 8:30am-5:00pm. In the second footage, you have visitors on Sunday. Did you know of the existence of restrictions on visitors on the bank premises?
Bagyenda: I was not aware.
Among: How long had you been at the bank?
Bagyenda: 35 years.
Tusiime: Ms Bagyenda, the same manual also provides for the time of access to the bank by staff and particularly so if it is beyond working hours and weekends. You ought to get clearance from the director security. Did you pursue that clearance?
Bagyenda: I did not because I did not know that was the policy.
Tusiime: Director security, now that you were mandated to make the employees of the bank aware of the circumstances of your mandate, is there a possibility that some banking staff especially members of management were not aware of the security conditions?
Opio-Orech: The HR should answer that question. They are the ones who are supposed to make sure that staff read the administration manual. There were several reminders to all staff to read the administration manual.
Among: Were those reminders in writing?
Opio-Orech: I need to check with HR and the EDS office to find out how many reminders they sent because in compliance they are supposed to send out those reminders periodically.
Elijah Okupa [Kasilo County]: Ms Bagyenda, were the two people we have seen in the footage your visitors?
Okupa: Were they on official duty?
Okupa: What was the official duty?
Bagyenda: MMAKS is our official lawyer and the discussions on the resolution of Crane Bank were continuing anytime of the week. The Baroda MD had a request to do with his clearance.
Okupa: Who else from BoU was in the meeting with them?
Bagyenda: I was alone.
Okupa: Do we have minutes of that meeting?
Bagyenda: I don’t have the minutes
Katuntu: Do you have any record of that meeting?
Bagyenda: The record is out but not the minutes.
Katuntu: That’s not a record.
Okupa: Director security, which officers were on duty on that Sunday? The ones that were supposed to check the visitors and did not?
Opio-Orech: We will provide the names. Some of them have been subjected to disciplinary action while others have been forwarded to management.
Katuntu: Is it normal for officers who are on leave to come and continue accessing their offices even after working hours? Is it normal for officers to access their offices, including having keys to their offices and even literally working?
Bagyenda: Director Security please [answer that].
Opio-Orech: We have different profiles. Management profiles can access the bank 24/7 even when they are on leave.
Medard Sseggona [Busiro East]: Director security, do you have a control room or centre where you observe the happenings at the security gates. If so, who mans it and who was in charge on that day in question.
From that or any other means, have you observed that there were breaches on the days in question and established who were responsible for those breaches?
Katuntu: Hon Sseggona, I think you should withdraw the first question because it touches the security apparatus of that institution.
Opio-Orech: During the investigations we observed that there were breaches and we have taken action.
Beatrice Anywar[Kitgum Municipality]: Ms Bagyenda was EDS for 35 years but does not know the security manual, can we have the administrative structure to help know the reporting channels and I would want to ask her how she was managing the bank structures yet she does not know the departmental details. I find it strange that the EDS of the bank did not know the bank’s security manual yet she worked there for 35 years.
Bagyenda: Director security has clarified that our category has 24/7 security clearance. So, I have never been stopped. For 24 hours, I can [access the bank].
Anywar: I am not asking about your movements in and out of the bank. You stated here that you do not know the security clearances where you are supposed to be checked. I want you to confirm whether you are telling the truth?
Bagyenda: I knew the checking was there and that is why I passed through the scanner. I could not enter without passing through security.
Anywar: Why did you use the emergency doors when your bags were brought in and out?
Bagyenda: Can I pass that question to the director security.
Anywar: Can I ask your bodyguard, why didn’t you have the bags you collected from the vehicle pass through the security check and why did you use an emergency door?
Juliet Adikot[Bagyenda’s bodyguard]: I don’t know why the bags were not checked. I used an emergency door because the turnstiles of the bank can’t allow the bags to pass through.
Anywar: Are you a security officer?
Anywar: How long have you worked in the bank?
Adikot: Two years.
Vicent Wobwoya [Budadiri East]: If Ms Bagyenda agrees with her bodyguard that the bags were too huge to go through the normal gates, why didn’t she empty the contents so that they are checked if at all there was no sinister motive?
Bagyenda: We have all watched the footage. The people who were carrying the bags did not open that emergency door. I did not see the people who carried the bags stopping the security from checking the bags.
Katuntu: Ms Bagyenda, as a senior staff of BoU, do you know you have an obligation to have any property going out of the bank checked. As a senior staff who has worked with BoU for 35 years?
Bagyenda: I did not breach [security protocol] and I passed through the scanner.
Sheila Mwine [Kiruhura Woman MP]: Ms Bagyenda, you told us that the items taken out of the bank were personal belongings. Why then did you return them to the bank?
Bagyenda: The things I took out were personal. The day I came back from the airport I was carrying luggage which had reading materials, documents and gifts for my staff.
Katuntu: The point is that you are due for retirement and you clear personal belongings from your office. You again carry a load full of personal belongings back to the office.
Bagyenda: I have been working in the bank for 35 years. The things I took from the bank on 10th February were not the things I brought back. I was coming from the airport. I was the chairperson of the African Banking regulators and we had a meeting in Pretoria and I had materials which I had to bring back and some of them were for my handover. I also had gifts from South Africa.
Among: Did you come straight from the airport to the office?
Okupa: You went through your home, why didn’t you leave them at home? When you look at the footage, the movement from the airport was via her home.
Bagyenda: I did not see myself coming through home in the footage.
Katuntu: We traced that car electronically and we know where it passed.
Bagyenda: I want to see the car tracking log.
Katuntu: Director security, can you give her the car tracking log?
Jennifer Mababazi: We can clearly observe that Ms Bagyenda used the advantage of the weaknesses of security. Security should tell us if they tried to check and she refused or they never did it at all. Another thing, from the footage, we saw those big bags from the airport coming in but we did not see them coming out. We don’t know where those bags are.
Bagyenda: The footage said it all and my packing [of documents] took a lot of time because of the information I had accumulated. Like I said yesterday, when a complaint came, I subjected myself to a check in my office. Because a complaint came that the people who carried bags were not checked and I said okay, a complaint has come, please check the luggage and it was done.
Katuntu: The question was that when you came from out, you came in with bags but we don’t see the bags getting out. When did you get these bags out?
Bagyenda: It was a continuous exercise of cleaning my office. When a complaint came on 16th March, I wrote to security that I would continue taking away my bags and they indeed came and checked.
Katuntu: How did you know about this complaint?
Bagyenda: I had sent them an email. I was told at the checking point by a security guard that even my security guard would be checked.
Katuntu: She says she was told by the consultant. Is it true?
Rwekikiga Asiimwe [Senior Consultant, Bank of Uganda]: I came to learn from her that we were witch-hunting her because we were looking for a search warrant to search her premises and so we could not continue because it had leaked. It came from her and not me. And I want to add that employees have an obligation as per policy. Every BoU employee shall take actions that enhance and shall desist from taking actions that compromise the security of the bank. When you are clearing out and there are many people that clear every year, you do exactly what she did after the complaint, you call people to see that what you are loading is yours and not bank property. And that is also captured in the document policy. There is no document that is supposed to leave the bank without clearance from the director security.
Regarding Ms Bagyenda’s alleged breach of BoU security protocols, the Committee resolved to further examine raw CCTV footage captured by BoU security cameras before deciding the next course of action.