Uganda loses more aid over alleged fraud

Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach said Denmark has suspended direct aid to Uganda and has asked to country to return misused funds. Photo by: Radikale Venstre / CC BY-NC

Denmark is the third donor to suspend development assistance to Uganda following the alleged misuse of €12 million ($15.6 million) worth of aid money.

Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Christian Friis Bach said the decision covers all of Denmark’s direct aid to the Ugandan government. Danish contributions to Uganda’s judicial sector, civil society groups, the Human Rights Commission, Office of the Ombudsman and local nongovernmental organizations will continue, Friis Bach said.

Denmark now joins Ireland and the United Kingdom in the list of donors that have suspended aid after Uganda’s auditor general found that some €12 million allocated for the rehabilitation of North Uganda was channeled to private, unauthorized accounts. About €4 million of the money was donated by Ireland. No U.K. aid was involved, but the country decided to freeze its payments to Uganda as a precautionary measure.

According to Friis Bach, Denmark has told Uganda it wants its share of the misused funds — approximately 5 million Danish kroner ($860,000) — refunded and the people connected to the fraud brought to justice. The minister also called for better safeguards to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Seventeen senior Ugandan government officials have already been suspended in connection to the alleged fraud. The sanctioned officials, however, do not include Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary in the office of the prime minister, despite calls from the parliament for this suspension.

Meanwhile, Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has denied any personal involvement in the fraud case. He said he approved the investigation that led to the discovery of the misappropriation and pledged to work on the case and in fighting corruption in his government in general.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.

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