By Ivan Mwine
Richard Michael Nataka, the former secretary General of the Uganda Red Cross Society, has been found guilty of embezzling 1.2 billion shillings, money that was meant for the construction of the African Youth Leadership and Training centre in Mukono district in 2013.
Nataka was convicted by Anti-corruption court Grade One Magistrate Moses Nabende, who found him guilty of embezzlement, abuse of office, engaging in conspiracy to defraud and causing a financial loss to his employers, offences he committed between February and September 2013 in Kampala, when he was still the Secretary General of the Uganda Red Cross Society.
The Anti-Corruption Court thus far sentenced Nataka to seven years in prison for the crimes he committed.
In 2015, the Red Cross Society sued Nataka for having allegedly stolen Shs60m from its bank account during his reign.
Red Cross said in the suit that Nataka withdrew the money as his ‘rental costs’ which he was not entitled to.
Through its lawyers New Mark Associates, Red Cross claimed that Nataka’s package was only Shs6.8m monthly salary and a motor vehicle.
But he disguised the said money as office rent, yet they (Red Cross Society) had their own building at that time so they prayed to court to declare that he had abused the trust put in him to run the said account.
The suit came barely five months after Nataka had been charged before the Anti-Corruption Court in a different matter.
He was accused of abuse of office committed in 2013 when he transported a Tundra belonging to an individual (Bobi Wine) in the same container carrying a Red Cross consignment, in a bid to evade taxes.
According to prosecution, the move by Nataka was calculated to benefit him from the favorable freight and taxation considerations that Uganda Red Cross enjoys as he went ahead and applied for tax exemption from Uganda Revenue Authority, contrary to the Red Cross Society principles.
In 2018 the Directorate of Public Prosecutions wrote to court withdrawing the charges against Nataka prompting court to declare him a freeman, although the Red Cross pursued the case on through an appeal, hence the conviction.