UTL Barred From Sale of Properties, Firing Of Staff
Parliament’s select committee investigating reports of financial impropriety in Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) has directed the company to freeze any sale of its properties until the probe is complete.
The committee, chaired by Chua West MP, Phillip Ojara Okin has also directed UTL managers not to fire current employees, following reports that the company is planning to lay off some members of staff.
The committee, was named by Parliament after a whistle-blower report by Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Budadiri West MP. He blew the lid on apparent financial mismanagement by top bosses.
Mafabi revealed that Mark Shoebridge, the current Managing Director of UTL, was paid more than $18,000 in school fees, compared to his contractual entitlement of only $6000.
He was also paid $30,000, more than Ugx 100 million for his personal rent for the first six months next year at the rate of $5000 per month although he is entitled to only $3000 per month.
The board chairman of UTL, Stephen Kaboyo, who was earlier pinned over alleged sale of properties belonging to the company, is accused by the MP of increasing his monthly sitting allowance from Ugx 5.1 million to Ugx 17.2 million effective September, while his fellow board member, Moses Mwase’s allowance remained at Shs 3.4 million per month.
The company’s Chief Financial Officer, James Wilde is also implicated by Mafabi for allegedly using his company, Sub Saharan Air and Land Cargo Uganda Limited for being contracted to provide services to UTL without going through the prescribed procurement procedures.
Top management officials from UTL appeared before the committee on December 20, 2016, to provide information regarding the allegations. The officials, led by Mark Shoebridge, Managing Director of UTL, were grilled by the MPs over irregular sale of properties belonging to the company.
Ruhinda North MP, Thomas Tayebwa questioned the managers on how UTL advertised the sale of a property in Nsambya at $ 3.65 million in 2011 and got a bidder to buy the property.
Tayebwa however said it was shocking to learn that UTL sold the same property in 2015 to the sitting tenant, Bob Kabonero at 1.5 million dollars. Michael Tusiime, Mbarara Municipality MP, suggested that any sale of properties of the company is halted until Parliament concludes its probe.
The managers also failed to give explanation on the absence of audited accounts, to which the committee directed that reports from 2000 are presented for scrutiny, including letters of engagement with private firms KPMG and Ernst and Young, which the company claimed audited the company accounts.
The company was also asked to present curriculum vitae of all top management.