Absa Bank Uganda Limited has come under scrutiny again for allegedly conniving with fraudsters to con a gold dealer of USD162,000 (Shs597m).
The scam which involves three members of staff allegedly happened last year before the bank rebranded from Barclay Bank Uganda.
Nankabirwa Bernadette, Ssali Faridah and Titus Tusiime are said to have connived with Semakula Bashir, who runs Dynamic Consortium to fleece a Mozambican gold dealer.
Nankabirwa is a Customer Service Advisor at the bank’s Garden City branch while Ssali and Tusiime are managers at Garden City and Parliamentary Avenue branches respectively.
Watchdog Uganda could not verify whether the three are still employed with the financial institution.
According to Eutycus Forlan Mashariki Salam, who shared his ordeal on Sunday, the Mozambican businessmen wanted to come to Uganda to buy gold.
“He wanted me to represent him go through the transactions with the company in Uganda selling the gold,” Salam shared.
That is how he contacted Semakula whom he met at his office at BMK House.
“They took me through the process and he was eventually taken to Barclays Bank Garden City branch where they keep the gold nuggets,” he adds.
He was then told to pay taxes and insurance for the gold – about 50kgs of 1,200kgs- before it exits Entebbe to Mozambique.
“Now what these scammers do is, they head to a bank where they have tellers they deal with. My friend wired 162,000$ through Barclays Bank for insurance. It was wired to Bashir Semakula account number 6005565624.”
“When these gold guys have a transaction they take you to that teller who will stamp for you and give you a receipt showing that the money has been banked. This money will be collected back by these guys. It is not put in the system.”
The role of Ssali and Tusiime is to cover up for them in case the whole transaction back fires.
“When money comes in, they are given a certain percentage.”
The scammers allegedly parade the real gold but never get to export it.
Efforts to recover the money or the gold has since been futile, according to emails seen by Watchdog Uganda.
In one of the emails sent to Semakula, Rafael Moravarona states that ‘…. The situation gets worse with each passing moment.”
“The buyer has trusted us and it is us (S. Tony, Mr Rafael, Mr Basir and Dynamic Consortium) who must solve the problem, never the buyer,” the email dated December 18, 2018 reads in part.
“Having received from the buyer the USD162,450 corresponding to the invoice attached to this email, we cannot change the rules and ask the buyer to pay when the problem is Mr Bashir and Dynamic Consortium.”
In the email, Rafael also urges Semakula to find a quick solution and export the first 50 kgs as agreed in the contract.
This s not the first time Absa staff have been accused of account tempering.
Early this year, Naishibah Naiga, 29, a customer services specialist attached to the bank’s Ndeba branch was arrested for stealing $50,000 (Shs187million) from an account belonging to MTN Uganda Chairman, Charles Mbire.
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