Bank of Uganda (BoU) has frozen all the bank accounts belonging to ActionAid Uganda, a Non-Governmental Organisation operating in the country, following a police investigation over alleged money laundering.
All the five accounts including a Uganda Shillings account, US dollar, Pound Sterling and two Euro accounts are held at Standard Chartered Bank.
In a letter dated October 3 to the Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank Uganda Limited, Mr Louis Kasakende, the Deputy Governor BoU explains that the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) of the Police is investigating Action Aid International Uganda for alleged conspiracy to commit a felony and money laundering.
Mr Kasekende listed five bank accounts belonging to the NGO held at Standard Chartered Bank which Police CID is investigating.
Pursuant to section 110 of the Financial Institutions Act, 2004, Mr Kasakende directed Standard Chartered Bank to freeze all the listed accounts. “The accounts in question shall remained frozen until otherwise advised by Bank of Uganda,” reads part of the letter.
Mr Arthur Larok, the country director ActionAid Uganda, has confirmed that all their accounts have been frozen. He described the act as unfortunate and erroneous.
He asked the public to treat the allegations against ActionAid with the contempt they deserve. “Anyone with the slightest of understanding and knowledge about ActionAid’s work would know that the reality cannot be any farther from the truth”. He added: “We shall push back, together with our numerous partners the sad trend in our country that the allegations against ActionAid symptomise”.
Action Aid Uganda says the freezing of its accounts has affected its operations. Arthur Larok, the Executive director Action Aid Uganda, says they have resorted to the International community to negotiate with Government to unfreeze their accounts.
He says the International office of Action Aid, Donors and some Diplomats will help in resolving the crisis, which is a direct breech of rights of Ugandans.
He says they have written to all authorities in Government like the Uganda Revenue Authority, Bank of Uganda, Financial Integrity Authority, National Social Security Fund, Standard Chartered Bank, the Uganda Police and Uganda to explain their stand.
He says Action aid will also engage with the millions of beneficiaries in Uganda to alert them of what is happening and seek their help. Larok says as a human rights and development based organization, all that they were doing is within their mandate.
On September 19th, Police raided ActionAid Uganda offices in Kampala, where they conducted a cordon and search operation. Police accessed and searched computer accessories, mobile handsets, money transfer related documents and bank related transaction documents, taking away some of them.