MTN Staff Jailed 9-Years for Ugx3billion Fraud

2582 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Anti-Corruption Court Judge Paul Mugamba observed that the cybercrime committed by the convicts was premeditated and that if it continued undetected; it would have brought about social problems and the loss of confidence in the mobile money system.

Six former MTN staff who were on Monday found guilty of stealing more than 3 billion Shillings mobile money through electronic fraud have been sentenced to nine years in jail.

Anti-Corruption Court Judge Paul Mugamba observed that the cybercrime committed by the convicts was premeditated and that if it continued undetected; it would have brought about social problems and the loss of confidence in the mobile money system.

He added that cybercrime is on the rise and that the sentence was meant to deter others who have similar criminal plans.

"Cybercrime is on the rise and our society ought to learn that crime does not pay. They should be punished for the authorized access." ruled Justice Mugamba.

He added: "cybercrime is harmful. I have noted that the crime was premeditated and therefore the crime carefully executed."

Those jailed include; Edrisa Sserunkuma (self-employed), Joseph Magombe (MTN mobile money agent), Daniel Ssegujja (Sales Representative), Henry Edgar Matovu (self-employed ), Irene Kauma (Sales Executive Easy mobile money) and Peter Ayebale (cleaner).

The maximum penalty that they would have suffered was life imprisonment for the charges of electronic fraud and unauthorized access contrary to the section 12 (1) and 20 of the Computer Misuse Act 2011.

The sentencing comes a day after the same court acquitted three of their co-accused for lack of prosecution evidence

Breaking down the sentences, the judge jailed those facing theft charges for seven years, those involved in the offense of conspiracy to commit a felony were jailed for seven years, those found guilty of unauthorized access were jailed for nine years, and those found guilty of electronic misuse were jailed for seven years.

The judge said all the sentences were to run concurrently, meaning each is to serve nine years in jail.

The judge also ordered that the money that was recovered from the respective convicts by the police during the search at their homes and brought in court as exhibits, be returned to MTN.  The money in question that was in US Dollars, Pound Sterling and Uganda Shillings amounts to about 90 million Shillings.

However, the judge was silent on the prosecution's request to have the convicts compensate MTN for the 3billion lost.

During mitigation proceedings, the prosecution led by Marion Acio, prayed for a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those convicted on charges of electronic fraud and unlawful access saying cybercrime is on the rise.

Prosecution had told court that the convicts and others still at large between January 23 and 25 2013 at MTN Towers and plot 77 Yusuf Lule Road in Kampala, carried out electronic fraud by transferring more than 3 billion Shillings from MTN dispute account to MTN mobile money agent lines.

Further, prosecution told court that Magombe, Ayebale, Ssegujja, Matovu and Sserunkuma, between 23 and 25 January 2013, unlawfully possessed a computer component which is designed primarily to overcome security measures for the protection of data with regard to password and access code of MTN computer systems.

The judge also considered the two years and two months that convicts have already spent on remand.