Kampala, Uganda: Uganda’s National Social Security Fund Relations Manager Joseph Sooka has been convicted of embezzling 152.7 million Shillings from the Fund Suspense Account.
Sooka who has been in charge of the Suspense Account which the Auditor General has severally queried for accumulating unallocated funds is also convicted on counts of money laundering, four counts of forgery and three counts of uttering false documents.
Documents before the court indicate that between May 2017 and July 2019, while at Barclays Bank Uganda, Sooka intentionally disguised the true source of 152.72 million Shillings by transferring it from various bank accounts that he irregularly opened in the names of fictitious claimants to his personal accounts.
The court also heard that in October 2017 between Mokono Municipality and Kampala City, Sooka with intent to deceive made a false document- the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) claim form for benefits in the names of Sifiso Simela Biyomo under registration number 5918105000531. In the document, Sooka purported that Sifiso was applying for his NSSF benefits whereas not.
In the same application, he is said to have used a fake National Identity Card Number CM59060102FJGA purporting that the same was issued to Sifiso Simela Biyomo by National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA). An internal investigation report on the NSSF suspense account recently revealed that a total of 37 million Shillings had been paid out of the Fund to a person who impersonated the South African expatriate, Sifiso Simela Biyomo, who previously worked with Air Uganda.
Sooka is also reported to have uttered false documents claiming the benefits of Njagi Timothy, Din Kamaldin and Kaloga Inah. In 2019, The NSSF Head of Internal Audit Geoffrey Barigye reported that six non-registered NSSF members had been irregularly registered, their suspense records cleared, processed and paid their age benefits for more than 113 million Shillings under a fraudulent scheme.
An internal investigation also ascertained that Sooka orchestrated the fraud using his phone number and bank account. He was then fired and prosecuted but jumped bail.
According to Senior State Attorney Jacquelyn Okui, Sooka will now spend five years in prison for embezzlement, five years for money laundering, three years for each count of forgery and three years for each count of uttering false documents. The sentences will run concurrently.
On top of the sentences, Anti-Corruption Court Judge Margaret Tibulya also ordered Sooka to return to NSSF the full sum of 152.7 million Shillings and barred him from holding a public office for 10 years.