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CID, FIA break silence on shs1.6b Capital Chicken scam

CID says at least 40 'investors' with Capital Chicken have come out as victims in the poultry scam.

Kampala, (UG): The Criminal Investigations Directorate of Police (CID) has said investigations are underway into fictitious pyramid schemes including the latest of Capital Chicken which have left several Ugandans crying foul after fleecing their money in non-existent investment schemes.

The intervention of security agencies comes barely a week after Capital Chicken SMC Limited lured several Ugandans to invest in a chicken business promising profits of more than 10% every month only to run away with a sum of money amounting to over shs1.6 billion after two years of operation leaving the investors in desperation.

According to CID Boss, AIGP Tom Magambo, the investigations directorate is taking the cases of fraud by the pyramid schemes seriously and they have directed joint investigations to have the fraudsters people behind the now common practice arrested.

“We take fraud very seriously. We are carrying out joint investigations against these groups who are fleecing money from people. They have different dimensions. Some have external players, but whenever we get information, we investigate them,” Mr Magambo said yesterday.

According to police ongoing investigations, at least 41 Ugandans have come out as victims after the Company Thursday last week indefinitely closed operations and later issued an unscrupulous statement on social media after the victims complained about their inability to access the scheme’s office.

“We have been forced to temporarily close following a Capital Markets Authority (CMA) news release discrediting us about two weeks ago and the subsequent freeze of our accounts by the FIA that has made it impossible for us to run normal operations,” Capital Chicken statement read in part.

“We call upon our farming partners to be calm as we navigate the turbulence created by the various agencies who should have instead engaged us on regulatory issues if indeed, the intention was to streamline our operations,” the statement added.

The case which is now a subject of investigation at Kira Road Police Station indicates that more than Shs1.6b of clients’ money was lost in the scheme with one client reporting that he lost more than Shs100m while another lost Shs52m.

Financial Intelligence Authority Speaks out

When contacted to confirm the allegations by the company, Mr Samuel Were Wandera, the executive director of the Financial Intelligence Authority confirmed that they have halted the accounts of Capital Chicken pending an investigation by the police and CMA.

“We have halted their accounts to support the investigations,” Mr Wandera said, adding that the details are with the police and CMA that is leading the investigations.

The CMA, which had earlier warned members of the public about the investment companies that aren’t regulated by them as per the law, issued a statement yesterday stating that they are aware of Capital Chicken’s issues.

“The CMA has not temporarily closed Capital Chicken Limited (SMC) as alleged. This matter is now being handled by the Uganda Police Criminal Investigations Directorate,” CMI statement indicated.

Several other similar companies dealing in agricultural investments have been calling on investors to invest their money in farming projects that they are managing.

Investigators say the fraudsters have been using different schemes in a range of sectors to fleece their victims of their money.

Pyramid scheme fraudsters became popular in Uganda in the late 1990s when they created savings and loan groups like Dutch International and Caring for Orphans, Widows and the Elderly. When they accumulated savings from their victims, they would disappear with it.

However, it is difficult for the victims to recover money or the State to punish the suspects. The suspects are often charged with embezzlement or operating a financial institution without a licence.

For the last 20 years, judges have been urging that the clients can’t claim that their money was embezzled when they aren’t the owners or directors of the pyramid scheme company.

In several cases, the suspects have been able to elude jail by exploiting loopholes in the laws to get acquittals in court.

Police have now advised members of the public should take precautions by inquiring from regulators before they invest in any scheme.

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