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Govt freezes accounts of DAPCB top officials over Shs 1.6bn loan dispute

The Ministry of Finance has stopped officials from the Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board (DAPCB) from transacting business on all its bank accounts over alleged financial impropriety.

Some of the DAPCB officials are, among others, accused of receiving money from a prospective buyer, but failing to turn over the property purchased.

The brake applied by Finance ministry has paralysed the Board’s activity and the state of affairs will only change when signatories are changed.

A highly-placed source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told this newspaper that trouble for the board started when a city investor, Ms Margaret Ssekidde of Seroma Limited, paid about Shs1.6 billion to buy a building on Plot 7A, Market Street, in central Kampala.

The sales agreement was signed by the DAPCB executive secretary George William Bizibu, board chairperson Abdallah Byakatonda and Ms Ssekidde.

However, Ms. Ssekidde reportedly failed to take possession of the property and subsequently petitioned President Museveni, who ordered inquiries into the affairs of DAPCB.

“The accounts of the Departed Asian Properties Custodian Board have been frozen and top officials are under probe,” a source close to the investigation told PMLDaily.

Purchase noted showing the transaction and amount paid by Ms. Ssekidde of Seroma Limited

Details of the full investigation are still scanty but the DAPCB has in the last few years been a subject of controversy.

A select task force of the parliamentary Committee on Commission, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) investigating the body found that many properties had been disposed of without following due process.

MPs put Finance Minister Matia Kasajia to task to explain why Chief Executive Bizibu, who also had a torrid time explaining audit queries that have marred operations of the government agency is working without a formal appointment as Executive Secretary.

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The MPs concluded that Mr Bizibu was in office illegally.

The Parliamentary inquiry started after the Board chaired by Mr Kasaija claimed unspecified amount of money was paid to undisclosed claimants for properties which were sold by the Custodian Board prior to receiving repossession claims by original owners.

The MPs then challenged the Custodian Board to publish a list of the beneficiaries to confirm whether they did not pay ghost claimants.

While appearing before COSASE at the time, Mr Bizibu, admitted the accountability queries when questioned by MPs.

Background

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Departed Asians property
The Asians, after their expulsion by President Idi Amin in 1972, left behind property, which included businesses, stock and real estate.
By law, under the Expropriated Properties Act, all property that was left behind was vested in the government of Uganda under the authority and management of DAPCB.

For years, the board has had issues ranging from failure to effectively supervise the activities of the secretariat to outright corruption and negligence. Although Section 5 (1) of the Assets of Departed Asians Act mandates the board to sit at least once every month, the six ministers on the board are always too busy to meet.

The messes at hand include theft of public funds through fictitious compensations, double allocation of properties, forged land titles, sale of assets without proper valuation and missing documents.

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