NEWS EDITOR MEDIA
HIGH COURT in Kampala has sentenced Joseph Sooka, a former employee of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), to five years in prison for fraudulently withdrawing over UGX 152M from the Fund’s suspense account.
This is after NSSF handed him over to the Uganda Police in October 2019 and Director of Public Prosecutions following an internal investigation that established suspicious withdraws he had fraudulently processed over time.
For starters, the suspense account is where the Fund temporarily saves contributions with unclear details of the member accounts to which they should be deposited. The money is later allocated to the respective member accounts upon reconciliation with the contributing employers.
The Fund’s Internal Audit Department in October 2019 established that Joseph Sooka had presented fictitious claim documents that he used to access monies of the unsuspecting members between May 2017 and July 2019.
“All the monies released on account of the false claims was credited to the (bank) accounts controlled by the accused…,” reads the judgement delivered by Hon. Lady Justice Margaret Tibulya.
Sooka, was convicted on a total of ten counts that included embezzlement, money laundering, forgery and uttering of false documents. Justice Margaret Tibulya convicted Sooka on each of the ten counts as charged. He was asked to refund the shs152m he had stolen from the Fund and banned from assuming any positions in public offices for a period of ten years.
HOW HE WAS DETECTED
At the time of his arrest, Joseph Sooka had fraudulently claimed monies for seven members. The Fund’s internal audit team identified unusual withdraws on the suspense account following a tip off by one of the victims.
It was discovered that the genuine members hadn’t claimed for their monies although claims had been processed in their favour.
Ms. Barbra Arimi, the Fund’s Head Marketing and Corporate Affairs said that the win demonstrated the Fund’s zero tolerance to fraud.
“We are committed to protecting our members’ savings at all costs and have put in place several security checks to prevent fraud especially from the suspense account.” Said Barbra Arimi.
The Fund has since put in place initiatives to mitigate the growth of balances on the suspense account. These initiatives include the e-collections portal which makes it impossible for employers to remit without complete employee information, publication of suspense in different media platforms as well as field engagements aimed at tracing members on the suspense account.
In addition, the Fund has fully integrated with NIRA to enable the registration of members, and this has significantly reduced the amount of incoming suspense.
“The bulk of the suspense relates to historical periods. Once all efforts to clear suspense are exhausted, we will publish all pending suspense and have it moved to the reserve as per provisions of the NSSF Act (as amended).” Madam Arimi told this leading investigative news website.
The National Social Security Fund Uganda is a multi-trillion Fund mandated by Government through the NSSF Act, as amended, to provide social security services to employees in the private sector.
The Fund is a secure, innovative, and dynamic social security provider that guarantees safety, security, and a competitive return on members’ savings of over 2% above the 10-year inflation average.
The Fund manages assets worth over UGX 17.8 trillion, invested in Fixed Income, Equities and Real Estate assets within the East Africa region. As the largest Fund in East Africa by value, we have the ambitious goal of growing our Assets Under Management to 20 trillion by 2025.
The Fund is regulated by the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority while the Minister of Gender, Labour & Social Development, and the Minister of Finance, Planning & Economic Development are responsible for policy oversight.
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