Bank accounts held by poverty focused international organization Action Aid in Uganda have been frozen by its banker Standard Chartered bank. Freezing the charity’s financial accounts is part of an ongoing investigation by Police’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) over alleged money laundering.
According to an official from Standard Chartered Bank, an instruction from the regulator, Bank of Uganda ordered that the five accounts all held in the bank be closed temporarily.
This instruction is contained in a letter authored on October 3 by Central Bank Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende to the Managing Director of Standard Chartered Bank.
“The CID is investigating Action Aid for alleged conspiracy to commit felony and money laundering,” wrote Kasekende, and listed five accounts for four different currencies (US dollars, Pound Sterling, Uganda Shillings and Euros).
“Pursuant to Section 118 of the Financial Institutions Act 2004, Standard Chartered Bank is accordingly directed to immediately freeze all the listed accounts,” Bank of Uganda directed in the letter.
The accounts will be frozen until the Central Bank instructs otherwise.
In September, police raided and locked the offices of Action Aid before confiscating items including laptops and cell phone handsets from its employees. The raid came in the wake of protests in Kampala city against a proposed amendment of the constitution to remove the Presidential age limit.
Police took significant documents on the non-governmental organisation’s financial transactions. A similar raid was made on another NGO Great Lakes Institute of Strategic Studies (GLISS).
The Police spokesperson AIGP Asan Kasingye had later said in a statement that the Action Aid and GLISS were suspected of receiving foreign funding to destabilize the political statusquo.
“We received intelligence that these organisations had received funding to destablise the city and some parts of the country following the intended debate in parliament on age-limit,” a statement signed by Police spokesperson Asan Kasingye said.
Arthur Larok, the Action Aid Country Director in Uganda who says he has since undergone numerous interrogations has been questioned on the organization’s activities and suspects that freezing of their accounts is connected to Action Aid’s opposition to the Age Limit Bill.