The investigation uncovered typical tokens of corruption, including brand-new luxury cars and junkets to exotic cities, such as Paris and Oslo.
The scandal centered on a newly created organization within the Health Ministry, known as the Project Management Unit (PMU), which funneled $47 million from the fund to about 400 private organizations, known as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Many of the NGOs existed only on paper.
PMU paid grossly inflated salaries to its 15 professionals and 20 support staff, who often doubled their take-home pay with generous and largely undocumented expense allowances.
Much of the money disappeared into personal bank accounts of PMU employees and final grant recipients, who sometimes wrote large personal checks to their supervisors.
A bank that received nearly $20 million wired from Geneva in U.S. dollars skimmed about $245,000, by using an artificially low exchange rate.
In all, about $37 million of the money remains unaccounted for.
“You could count the number of honest recipients with two hands, and even they were not without sin,” Justice Ogoola said, his face cringing ever so slightly as he spoke.
Problems have surfaced with other recipients of Global Fund money, including Burma, which has been cut off completely. Local newspaper reports tell of similar problems accounting for money in Kenya.
The Global Fund disbursement was poorly conceived in the first place, said Onapito Ekomoloit, the press secretary for Mr. Museveni.
“The message was vague. It was for workshops, and people were cooking up all kinds of numbers and books to justify the money. It was just talk. Talk, talk, talk, and anybody could claim the capacity to do it,” Mr. Ekomoloit said.
It could have been worse, as less than 25 percent of a $200 million grant had been disbursed.
Future money from the Global Fund is earmarked for HIV, malaria and tuberculosis drugs, Mr. Ekomoloit said.
“It will be much easier to keep track of,” said Justice Ogoola.
By Elaine Donnelly
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