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JUST IN: Trade Ministry PS Ssali summoned over theft of Shs164b cooperatives cash

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As President Museveni’s tight grip on corruption continues to yield early fruits, the Ministry of Trade Permanent Secretary, Ms Geraldine Ssali, and her team are the latest to get summonses from the Criminal Investigations Directorate over a whopping Shs 164bn theft.

This comes a day after the chairman of the Parliament budget committee Mr Opolot Patrick Isiagi and clerks appeared before detectives over the investigations into the same funds meant for compensation of cooperative societies affected by previous wars.

Ms Ssali, along with the team which worked on the compensation exercise, are supposed to appear at the Criminal Investigations Directorate in Kibuli, a Kampala suburb later today.

The embattled PS, according to information obtained by this publication, was severally mentioned in the report by the parliamentary Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industry, which influenced the irregular compensation of the claimants of Bwavumpoloma Growers Cooperative whom the government gave Shs2.7b in November 2021.

While meeting the parliamentary committee, Ms Ssali insisted that the payments were made before she became the Trade Ministry accounting officer. The Members of Parliament subsequently recommended that Ms Ssali and other public servants be interdicted to pave the way for investigations.

The payment of the war debt claimants started as far back as the Eighth Parliament in the mid-2000s. The payments were originally managed by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs before it was transferred to the Trade Ministry.

However, sources familiar with the matter say the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) has extended its scrutiny to include technical officials within the Ministry of Trade, including accountants, auditors, and the undersecretary, as well as Permanent Secretary Geraldine Ssali.

The officials, according to the source, are suspected of involvement in the mismanagement of approximately 164 billion Ugandan shillings allocated for cooperative compensation. “The focus has shifted to the technical officials within the ministry, where the alleged mismanagement of funds originated.”

“Geraldine Ssali, alongside others, is being investigated to ascertain if they have a role in the diversion of these substantial public funds,” the source added, emphasizing that “if she is found to have been part of the cartel, she will be charged and sent to Luzira like the others.”

The development comes in the wake of recent arrests and charges levelled against several Members of Parliament and a lawyer accused of diverting funds intended for Buyaka Cooperatives Society in Bulambuli district.

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