The Ugandan Prime Minister has denied any involvement in the disappearance of $5million worth of Irish government aid.
Patrick Amama Mbabazi has denied any knowledge of the alleged fraud of €4 million of Irish Aid funding in his office.
In an interview with Irish state broadcaster RTE he apologised and said he understands the anger of the Irish Government over the misappropriation of funds.
The fraud was orchestrated by members of his office but the PM insists he did not receive any of it.
He has ordered a criminal investigation into 14 officials said to be implicated in the scandal, including the principal accountant who has been arrested.
Mbabazi told RTE he expects there will be prosecutions over the transfer of aid money to the unauthorised accounts.
He said: “It is true some of the payments were made to private accounts of some officials of the ministry in the office of the prime minister.
“But let me say this: I didn’t know. No money was ever paid to me and I never handled money. As prime minister, I don’t handle money of government at all, ever.
“And even money that was paid to private accounts, some was fraudulently paid to private accounts. But some, it’s not the case they stole the money, they used it for the purpose for which it was intended, although it was irregularly managed.”
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has suspended all financial assistance through the Ugandan prime minister’s office.
It has now emerged that a total of $15million worth of funding from four aid countries was moved to unauthorised accounts.
The Irish government was due to send over $20million worth of aid to Uganda this year.
Mbabazi also told RTE that he never became suspicious of the activities of officials who are accused of carrying out the fraud from the basement of his office building.
Ahead of meetings with the Irish ambassador, Mbabazi added: “The greatest weakness we have is the capacity to investigate. And we will be telling our friends, development partners and other friends, that the greatest help we need in the fight against corruption in Uganda today is to build that capacity to investigate.
“Corruption is not only in public office, corruption is in every place.”
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