Kazinda sentenced to 40 years in Prison, ordered to return 19BN taxpayers Money

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Geofrey Kazinda being led to Court during one of the proceedings on alleged cases of graft; Courtesy Photo

Former Principal Accountant in the office of the Prime Minister, Geoffrey Kazinda, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison on several charges including, illicit enrichment, forgery, causing financial loss and conspiracy respectively.

Justice Margaret Tubulya who presided over the case at the Anti Corruption Court in Kampala also ordered him to compensate government up to UGX:19,171,476,505 billion.

Kazinda was in 2012 implicated in the loss of billions in the infamous OPM scandal after the then Office of Prime Minister Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana, blew the whistle on his suspected fraudulent dealings.

In 2014, Kazinda ran to the Constitutional Court seeking among other things, to declare that the act by the directorate of public prosecutions to split the cases and sequentially initiating charges of offences founded on the same facts for which he was earlier on convicted contravened the constitution.

The Constitutional Court justices ruled that all the trials he had faced after his first conviction abused laws provided for under the Constitution.

Government however challenged the Constitutional Court’s ruling dismissing charges related to corruption against Kazinda.

In today’s verdict, the judge also said Kazinda should not hold any public office for a period of 10 years from today (September 24, 2021) C/S 46 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009.

Court said the full judgment will be availed to public because Kazinda’s co-accused was not in court when the judge read court decision.

Illicit wealth

First count:

It is on record that at the time of arrest, Kazinda had accumulated a lot wealth and lived a luxurious life that did not commensurate with his known sources of income. It’s argued that Kazinda would have evaded the long-arm of the law had the OPM scandal not hit the limelight.

Still, observers say his penchant for luxury including riding posh cars, booking five-star accommodation and regular expensive flights to Monaco, France to watch Formula 1 races, landed him in trouble.

The Anti-corruption Judge, Margaret Tibulya, later found that between 2009 and 2012, Kazinda’s standard of living was way above his income. Evidence showed that between 2010 and 2012, Kazinda had rented a suite at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala for six months at a whooping Shs 210,364,011 (USD 56,910).

Yet, Kazinda had stated in his Asset Declaration Forms that, for the period in issue, he had no other sources of income other than his salary and allowances, which totaled Shs 83,754,655 (USD 22,658).

To disassociate this expense from himself, Kazinda obtained a credit facility at the hotel in the name of an accomplice who denied having occupied the suite.

Also, expert evidence on handwriting showed that the accused had signed the invoices of the bills incurred. He also made part payments in cheques in his own name. Oral evidence from hotel staff also proved that it was the accused who occupied the suite at the time.

A mansion and plots of land in Kampala

In the second count, the court found that between 2010 and 2012, Kazinda was in control and possession of three plots of land in Bukoto, Kampala worth a total value of Shs 3,657,747,500 (USD 989,540), which was disproportionate to his known sources of income. On a part of this land sat the accused’s spectacular mansion.

Interestingly, Kazinda had tried to disassociate himself from these properties by transferring them as a gift to the registered trustees of a local Christian monks’ group.

Three witnesses from the monks’ group testified that their society did not, in fact, own these properties.

Their acquisition was not reflected in their Annual General Meeting reports of the years in question. Neither were they reflected in their inventory of properties.

So, though the accused had purported to have transferred these properties by way of a gift to the monks, evidence showed that he remained in possession and control of these properties. He also retained the land titles. The fact that the accused did not declare these properties in his Asset Declarations led to an inference that he had obtained them illicitly.

Luxury cars

In the third count, Court found that between 2010 and 2012, Kazinda was in control and possession of four motor vehicles worth a total value of Shs 769,473,835 (208,145 USD), which was disproportionate to his known sources of income. One of these vehicles was a Mercedes Benz worth a whopping Shs 544,594,287 (USD 147,315).

Strangely, Kazinda registered this luxurious vehicle in the name of a Christian monk who was his family friend. The other three vehicles were also registered in the names of accomplices. However, the court established that Kazinda owned and was in control of the said vehicles.

The court rejected Kazinda’s defence that he could have afforded this lifestyle since he had worked for 18 years in various positions. The court noted that even if his income were aggregated for all those years and even if he had not spent anything in all that time, the assets he was holding would still be hugely disproportionate to his known sources of income.

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