CHIEF Resident Magistrate Lameck Mwale has reserved ruling in a matter in which the state has applied to have the case in which four Ugandans and two Zambians are alleged to have stolen various amounts from Atlas Mara Bank Limited in-camera.
The six are alleged to have intentionally, and without lawful authority accessed Atlas Mara Bank Limited’s banking system, data that is a critical data base and further stolen millions of kwacha on various dates.
In this matter, Patrick Kafula, 38, of Uganda; Austin Daka, 30, Zambian; Vincent Ssempejji, a 29-year-old Hotelier of Uganda, Silvester Apuli, 43 of Uganda; Rashid Kyagulanyi, Ugandan and Makosana Ndolo, a 44-year-old Zambian are facing 84 counts of theft, money laundering, unauthorised access to critical data base, conspiracy to defraud and unlawful possession of device primarily designed to overcome security measures for the protection of critical data.
In one of the counts, it is alleged that between January 1, 2020 and July 4, 2020, in Lusaka, Kafula, Ssempejji and Apuli jointly and whilst acting together conspired to defraud Atlas Mara Bank Limited of K6 million by installing software primarily designed to overcome security measures for the protection of critical data.
In another count, it is alleged that between the same dates, Kafula, Ssempejji and Apuli unlawful possessed two key USB loggers, one USB flash disk and a laptop containing software primarily designed to overcome security measures for the protection of critical data base.
It is also alleged that the six accused persons between December 31, 2019 and January 2, 2020, in Lusaka jointly and whilst acting together did intentionally and without lawful authority, access Atlas Mara Bank’s banking system, data that is critical data base.
In theft charges, the six are alleged to have stolen different amounts of money, property of Atlas Mara Bank Limited.
In money laundering charges, the six accused persons are alleged to have between December 31, 2019 and January 2, 2020 in Lusaka, concealed the establishment of the true nature of K6,198,000 knowing the same to be proceeds of crime.
It is further alleged that Kafula, Daka, Ssempejji, Apuli and Makosan between January 1 and July 4, 2020 in Lusaka, concealed the establishment of the true nature of K8,120,000, knowing the same to be proceeds of crime.
When the matter came up for plea, Monday, Principal State Advocate Priscilla Mulenga applied to have the case heard in camera due to the nature of evidence that will have to be adduced in court.
“Your Honour, we apply that the proceedings should be held in-camera because making them public will be prejudicial to public safety and the reputation of interest of the institutions involved,” she said.
She added that the proceedings should also be barred from publication in order to protect information and evidence that will come out in the course of the proceedings as they may put the operations of other banks at risk.
And in objection to the application defence lawyer Henry Mulenga begged the court that the application by the State be quashed because it is the state through the Drug Enforcement Commission that announced the case to the public through a press briefing and it would be unfair to the accused to not have the evidence in their defence presented to the public to exonerate them.
“There is no evidence which can persuade the court to hold proceedings in-camera, mere speculations are not enough. It’s not the duty of this court to protect the reputation of a bank, they are protected by prescribed data systems,” said Mulenga.
And in response, Mwale reserved his ruling for December 4, 2020, when the matter comes up for ruling and amendment of charge sheet.