Police have intensified the hunt for a man who fleeced a cocoa company of over Shs 2.9 billion meant to ostensibly pay outgrowers in Bundibugyo.
In October 2017, one Gollapalli Naga Mohana Rao, 48, and Indian and chairman of Uganda Cocoa and Commodities Limited (UCCL) reported an embezzlement case of company money totaling to $79500( Shs2.9bn) by one Shiramshetti Shravan Kumar, another Indian national.
According to Gollapalli’s statement at police, the acts happened between 2015 and 2017 at Bugolobi, the UCCL offices and in Bundibugyo.
Following the report, the police force started investigations and it was found out that the suspect, Shiramshetti Shravan Kumar, was a son to Shiramshetti Ram Chander, the company Managing Director.
“In the same period, the company establishment a procurement office in Bundibugyo district and appointed one Swaminathan Kalyanaram, an Indian citizen to procure cocoa beans from Bundibugyo and transports them to the Uganda Cocoa and Commodities Limited head office in Kampala for export packing and export to Italy, Germany and Switzerland, etc,” the police report reads.
It was also found out that the company would transfer money to the procurement office in Bundibugyo to purchase cocoa beans from local outgrowers and make profits on sale proceeds.
The investigations found out that in March 2016, when the company reviewed its audited financial status it realized “huge” financial losses yet cocoa business was booming at the time.
“The chairman established from one Swaminathan Kalyanaram that Shiramshetti Shravan Kumar quite often visits Bundibugyo to inspect procurement and takes away money saying that he will procure cocoa beans from Kampala.”
Police investigations found out that Kumar admitted to siphoning money from the company and sent it to his personal account in India.
“I would withdraw part of the cash without buying cocoa and deposit it on my personal account over a period of time. I would some time transfer the money to my accounts outside the country by Western Union,” the suspect admitted in an agreement he made before the other company directors in which he promised to pay it back.
“The total amount siphoned is $795000 and I am willing to refund this sum back to the company within 12 months. I am wholly responsible for the loan from DFCU whose balance now stands at about $250,000. I will not move out of the country until my obligations stated above have been cleared,” Shiramshetti Shravan Kumar said according to a statement he made.
He then vanished in thin air.
In 2018, Gollapalli Naga Mohana Rao petitioned President Museveni seeking for assistance to arrest the suspects who were still at large.
In response, the president’s Principal Private Secretary, Molly Kamukama wrote to the Inspector General of Police asking that the matter be expedited.
“The purpose of this letter therefore is to forward the matter to you for further management. By copy of this letter, Mr.Mohana is requested to follow up and seek guidance from your office,” Kamukama wrote on June ,29, 2018.
Consequently, the matter was later referred to the International Police when the UCCL chairman requested for assistance to be able to arrest Kumar and one Shiramshetti Pooja, his accomplice both of whom had fled the country without paying the money.
“They are currently living freely in India and doing businesses. Therefore, as an aggrieved party, it is my humble request that I need your assistance to get them arrested and brought back to Uganda and stand trial through courts of law,” Gollapalli Naga Mohana Rao said in his letter to Interpol.
Consequently, Interpol in Uganda wrote to their counterparts in New Delhi asking for assistance in arresting the suspects.
“….the suspects escaped from Uganda and are believed to be in New Delhi, India,” Interpol Uganda wrote in a request to India dated August,23, 2019.
Suspect leaves India
In a response, Police from India wrote to Interpol in Uganda informing them that one of the suspects had left India for London.
“Please be informed that our immigration authority has intimated that the above mentioned subject wanted by Uganda has departed India on August,06, 2019 to London via Muscat. This is for your information and action as deemed appropriate,” the Interpol India wrote on August, 8, 2019.
According to the deputy Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire, investigations were complete but the hunt for the suspect is still on before appearing in court.
“Investigations were complete but what is remaining is for the arrest of the suspect, extradited to Uganda and he appears before court,” Owoyesigyire said.