East Africa

Retired US army officer arrested in Uganda’s $1b fake dollar racket

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More than $1 billion (about Shs2.7 trillion) black dollars is feared to be circulating in the economy after police discovered that a retired US army officer who entered Uganda with a sophisticated machine some time back heads a group that has been printing and selling counterfeit dollars in the country.

This information coming to the public for the first time, follows last Thursday’s arrest of an American citizen Andrew Ryan, whom police say was found with bundles of 50 denomination notes of fake dollars in his house in Mbalwa, Namugongo, Wakiso District.

Also in Mr Ryan’s house at the outskirts of the capital Kampala, police say they recovered seven money printing machines with different colours of cartridges, three pairs of US army uniforms with inscription: Ryan Andrew and a US army bag.

The arrest came on the heels of a transaction in which Stanbic Bank branch in Kakira, Jinja District, was fleeced of $300,000 (about Shs800m) in a fake dollar exchange transaction last month.
The bank, in collaboration with police, launched the hunt for the suspects. Sunday Monitor established that using the photographs which the suspects had left at Kakira branch as a requirement when they deposited the fake dollars, the police were able to trace and identify who they were.

Sunday Monitor was informed that US secret agents got interested in the case because they had earlier issued an alert that a retired American army colonel named Jack Fere had entered Uganda and was printing fake dollars which were being circulated in the economy.

The US colonel’s photograph was circulated to relevant offices. Sources said the police are so shocked by the sophistication of the fake dollar notes that they are wondering how much is already circulating in the economy undetected. But the US estimates at least $ 1billion (about Shs2.7 trillion) of fake dollars to have been injected into the Ugandan economy.

After the Kakira incident, three US secret agents joined a team of six police detectives attached to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and two Stanbic Bank officials. Three suspects were arrested. They had all used pseudo names. The arrest of the fourth suspect failed in Kawempe, Kampala, last Saturday after he escaped amid exchange of gunfire. Intelligence sources said they suspect someone in the police tipped the suspect to escape.

 

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