Sacco collects money from locals, vanishes


Clients of Vision Financial Services Cooperative Society Ltd on Monday stormed the institution’s offices in Kabaale Town, demanding refund of their deposits because of failure to access loans.
The institution opened offices on Nyerere Road in Central Division three months ago and has been mobilising clients from Kigezi Sub-region through radio announcements, inviting people to open accounts and access loans.
Mr Edison Byarugaba, a primary school head teacher in Kabale Town, said he was convinced to join the institution after his colleagues told him that it provided quick loans unlike other banking institutions.

“I deposited Shs640,000 after being promised to get a quick loan of Shs6m in one week. When I came on Friday last week for the loan, they told me to come back on Monday morning. Reaching here, the offices were closed and the phone numbers of all the staff were switched off,” Mr Byarugaba said.

The chairperson of Bubare Women Farmers’ Association, Ms Demitori Nuwahanga, said they were convinced to save Shs1m with Vision Financial Services Cooperative Society Ltd so that they can access a quick loan of Shs12m in one week.
“We accepted to deposit our money because the conditions of acquiring loans from this financial institution were not as hard as those in other banking institutions. I am worried that all our money could have been stolen because they told us to report on Monday to pick our loan only to find the offices closed and no single staff was available to give us feedback,” Ms Nuwahanga said.

Police informed
The police spokesperson for Kigezi Sub-region, Mr Elly Maate, said the police were informed about angry people who had locked up a loans officer, Mr Brian Akatukunda, after he turned up for work.
“We shall fully investigate this matter after the complainants have formally registered their cases at the police station by recording statements. Some of the staff of this financial institution do not know where the headquarters are because they only say they are in Kampala,” Mr Maate said.

He added: “We rescued him because we feared that he could be harmed by the angry clients.”
Kabale Resident District Commissioner Darius Nandinda warned the public against risking their money by putting it in institutions that promise them quick loans. He said they should always seek financial services from the well-established banks supervised by Bank of Uganda for the safety of their money.

Mr Nandinda also advised people to record statements with police so that the security can investigate and help them.
One of the loans officers at the financial institution, Mr Onan Aine, said he was employed by Mr Nicholas Senfuka, who was the general manager and his deputy was Mr John Byekwaso. He further said on September 12, the aforementioned managers promised him Shs800,000 as his monthly salary besides his transport and accommodation allowances but he had never been paid to date.

Mr Aine also revealed that he was threatened to be sacked when he asked for his salary arrears of two months.
“They (directors) asked us to always deposit the money collected from the clients onto the mobile phone of Mr Nicholas Senfuka, the general manager. When we questioned why they were not using the bank accounts, they threatened to sack us. By the time they switched off their phones, we had deposited about Shs30m,” Mr Aine said.
“These people have cheated us, the security should help us find them so that they can pay our money. We had a total of about 100 clients that had deposited their money in the financial institution with a hope of getting quick loans,” he added.

He further explained that each client was required to pay Shs10,000 for opening an account, Shs10,000 for membership and Shs20,000 for account maintenance before they could start depositing any money on their accounts.
The named general manager, Mr Senfuka and his deputy Mr Byekwaso could not be reached as their known phone numbers were switched off.

Past incident

In March 2011, the Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kabale sentenced two officials who embezzled money meant for the Care of Widows and the Elderly (COWE) in the district to four years in prison each, on top of ordering them to refund part of the money.
About 3,220 people sued the directors COWE, a financial institution that operated in Kabale District, accusing them of having duped them of about Shs4b as they were mobilised to deposit money with the institution for quick gains between 2006 and 2007.

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