SGA Security Group, a prominent security firm operating in East Africa, has found itself embroiled in a significant theft scandal. The company’s cash loaders, entrusted with cash, passwords, and pin codes to access an ATM in Nansana, mysteriously vanished along with their escorts.
This puzzling disappearance prompted an internal investigation by SGA Security Group, which uncovered the shocking revelation that approximately Shs2 billion had been stolen, presumably by some of its own staff.
As authorities delve deeper into the matter, ten employees of SGA Security Group now find themselves in police custody. The discovery was made after it became apparent that ATMs at various locations, including Kawaala, Namirembe Road, Kasubi, and Nansana, had been restocked with significantly less cash than anticipated, resulting in a staggering total shortfall of Shs2 billion.
This incident in Nansana is not an isolated case but rather the second occurrence within a mere two days. Mr. Daniel Arinaitwe, a manager at SGA Security Group, acknowledged the situation but refrained from providing extensive comments due to the ongoing police investigation, underscoring the gravity of the matter.
SGA Security Group, which originally began as Factory Guards Limited back in 1969, has steadily expanded its operations from its Nairobi base to encompass Uganda and Tanzania.
Besides offering security services to major corporate entities in Uganda, the company also provides ATM vaulting, cash loading, and management services to various financial institutions across the country.
Initial findings by the police indicate that SGA Security Group relies on its armored services to transport money to ATMs owned by sponsor banks. These sponsor banks trust SGA Security Group with funds from their vaults, typically protected by insurance against potential risks.
Upon delivering the cash, SGA Security Group issues a demand note to the respective bank for payment of their rendered services. While theft incidents are not unheard of in the banking industry, insurance coverage generally prevents them from making headlines. However, the recent case involving a prominent undisclosed local bank has drawn attention due to the frequency of thefts, totaling five incidents over a mere two-week span.
Mr. Patrick Onyango, the spokesperson for the Kampala Metropolitan Police, confirmed that ten suspects, all employees of SGA Security Group, are presently detained at the Central Police Station in Kampala as the investigation into the thefts progresses. However, SGA Security Group has asserted that twelve suspects were handed over to the police, raising some discrepancies in the reported numbers.
According to Mr. Onyango, the thefts occurred when SGA Security Group’s personnel loaded less money into the ATM machines than what the bank had requested, casting a shadow of doubt on the company’s internal processes.
These ongoing thefts have understandably raised concerns within the Ugandan commercial banking sector, even with insurance coverage in place to mitigate such traditional heists. In response to the escalating challenges, the Uganda Bankers Association, an umbrella body representing commercial banks licensed and regulated by the central bank, recently convened the first-ever financial fraud forum.
The event brought together key stakeholders, including commercial banks, the Judiciary, and security agencies, to address various types of heists, encompassing both traditional methods and sophisticated attacks such as jackpotting ATMs.
While modern high-tech heists have captivated public attention, the prevalence of more conventional thefts has gained prominence in Uganda, partially fueled by the recent cost of living crisis gripping the nation.
A reliable anonymous source from the banking sector divulged that commercial banks often outsource security groups to handle money transportation and the replenishment of offsite ATM machines. This aspect of commercial banking has come under scrutiny during the financial fraud forum, shedding light on the vulnerabilities present within the system.
As the nation awaits further developments in this high-profile case, the spotlight remains on SGA Security Group and its role in ensuring the security and trustworthiness of financial operations. The incident serves as a wake-up call for the entire industry to reevaluate security protocols, implement robust internal controls, and maintain the highest standards of integrity to protect the interests of customers and uphold the stability of the financial system.