The Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court in Kampala has convicted Edgar Agaba, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board of stealing more than Shs700m and causing financial loss of Shs350m to government.
Agaba was in 2019 indicted for abuse of office, causing financial loss and embezzlement.
It was alleged by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions that Agaba forwarded for payment, internal memos worth shs470,696100 and shs480,040,520 respectively to Imperial Royale Hotel for two workshops purporting each to have been held for four days.
However, each of the workshops had taken place for one day but the hotel received payment for four days for each workshop.
Agaba was also accused of forwarding to the accounting officer a memo, budget and lists of names of persons requesting for facilitation for sensitization workshops to be conducted in Kampala Metropolitan areas between August and October 2018.
The budget included shs24 million for each hall to be used for the sensitizations and he had included names of persons to be paid who were not employees of the gaming board and the sensitizations were conducted for one day each and at the division council hall at no cost.
The then gaming board boss also received payments to attend an activity in Mpigi for four days yet the activity was for a half day but he also received facilitation for an activity in Botwasana but he didn’t attend.
Agaba also received funds to pay for the Gaming Regulatory Forum (GRAF) but never paid the fees, and never refunded the said money over a period of three quarters until investigations commenced.
When investigations commenced, Imperial Royale refunded a total shs 604,309,000 to government for three days per workshop.
On Friday, Lady Justice Margret Tibulya reasoned with the office of the DPP that indeed Agaba stole government money but also caused financial loss to government.
The judge said there is enough evidence to prove that Agaba had sent memos requesting for payments to be made to Imperial Royale Hotel.
“Had the accused not been complicit in the scum, he would not have sought for the equivalent of four days’ payment for the workshop alluded to. Seeking payment for four days instead of the contractual two days for that workshop only supports and adverse inference that he had an ill motive,”Justice Tibulya said in her judgement.
She noted that being the CEO of the gaming board and the final person in charge of approving payments of such big sums of money, there is no chance that he could have ignorantly approved the release and payment of the money.
“This leaves no doubt as is my finding that he irregularly forwarded the requests( for payment to Imperial Royale Hotel). I find that the accused did arbitrary acts when he irregularly forwarded each of the two requests for payment of four days instead of one day each.”
The judge therefore noted that there was abuse of office by Agaba in his actions that saw him include names of persons who were not employees of the gaming board for payment.
“The accused(Agaba) didn’t dispute evidence that he didn’t attend the Mpigi workshop . It is common cause moreover that by the time he approved the internal memo forwarding it to the accounting officer, he knew that he had not attend the workshop. He was aware that he would be a beneficiary of the funds requested for given that he was privy to the budget which had been attached to the memo approved.”
The judge said it was wrong for Agaba to get allowances for his driver but ended up not paying the driver.
“I find that the state has sufficiently proved all the counts of embezzlement, abuse of office and causing financial loss. He is accordingly convicted on each of the counts as charged,” Justice Tibulya ruled.
The judge however fined Agaba shs100,000 for each of the eight counts of embezzlement, abuse of office and causing financial loss that he was convicted of.
In total, the former gaming board boss was fined shs800,000 or in alternative, to serve a three years imprisonment sentence concurrently in respect of each of the counts.
He was however banned from holding public office for a period of 10 years.
The case was prosecuted by Abigail Agaba, a Chief State Attorney and Emily Mutuzo, a State Attorney in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.