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Sudhir: How Mutebile, Bank of Uganda Betrayed Me

mmanuel-Tumusiime Mutebile

Embattled tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia has revealed how Bank of Uganda that is headed by Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile as Governor betrayed him.

This shocking revelation is contained in Sudhir’s defense and a leaked document showing the understanding BoU and Crane bank (in receivership) had reached with arguably Uganda’s richest man.

Sudhir has put BoU on the spot

Sudhir says on March 20, 2017, BoU, Crane bank (in receivership) and himself entered into a Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement (CSRA) that clearly indicated both parties would not only keep what was agreed confidential, but also they (BoU, Crane bank in receivership and Sudhir) wouldn’t sue each other.

“Each Party agrees, on behalf of itself and on behalf of the Related Parties not to sue, commence, voluntarily aid in anyway, procure, instigate, prosecute or cause to be commenced or prosecuted against any other party or its related Parties any action, suit or other proceedings concerning the Released Claims, in Uganda or in any other jurisdiction,” reads in part the CSRA obtained by Business Focus.

It adds: “This Confidential and Release Agreement is neither an admission of fact nor liability by SR (Sudhir Ruparelia) in connection with the Covered Conduct or a concession or acceptance by SR that he would not have any well-founded defenses to the claims and demands made by BoU in connection with the Covered Conduct or a waiver of any advocate-client privilege which or his advisers would benefit from.”

Sources say Sudhir was utterly shocked to see BoU sue him and his firm Meera Investments on June30, 2017.

In the CSRA, it was agreed that Sudhir pays US$60m and transfer to Crane Bank (in receivership) or its nominee the Freehold and Mailo titles in question.  Sudhir was to pay US$8m in the first 30 days of CSRA and indeed he paid the money within the stipulated time. US$10m was to be paid within 90 days and the balance of US$42m was to be paid by way of transfer to BoU (or its nominee) as Receiver of Crane Bank of real property with an aggregate fair market value of US$42m.

The CSRA was signed by Sudhir, Mutebile and the Bank Secretary.

Sudhir says the “instant suit was instituted for the purpose of intimidating, humiliating and blackmailing the Defendants (Sudhir and Meera Investments).”

It is not indicated in the CSRA why Sudhir was paying the said amount. However, in his defense, Sudhir denied any wrongdoing since he wasn’t involved in the day to day running of Crane Bank given the fact that he was a non-executive director.

On allegations of transferring titles from Crane Bank to Meera Investments, Sudhir says since Crane Bank had expansion plans, it had acquired a number of leases with different tenures; some seven years, 10 years among others.

He adds that the bank then took a commercial view that it was better in the long term to obtain freehold titles in lieu of the said leases.

“After the Plaintiff (Crane Bank) obtained over 14 freehold titles, it was considered that pursuant to the Land Act, the Plaintiff (Crane Bank) could not hold the land as a freehold owner since the Plaintiff is a non-citizen within the meaning of the Land Act,” Sudhir says in the 64-paged defense obtained by Business Focus.

He adds that the effect was that Crane Bank would have to extend its leases, pay fresh premiums with different landlords and negotiate new terms with different landlords around the country.

He explains that Crane Bank and Meera Investments (2nd Defendant) entered into a sale-and-lease back arrangement in order to protect Crane Bank’s long term interests.

“The Plaintiff (Crane Bank) still owns the buildings subject to the agreed ground rent,” he says, adding that the ground rent wasn’t exorbitant as alleged, but was reached on mutual understanding of both parties.

“At all material times, BoU was aware of these transactions,” Sudhir says.

Top Sudhir Witnesses

Sudhir has therefore included top BoU officials as his witnesses. These include Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile (BoU Governor), Dr. Louis Kasekende (BoU Deputy Governor), Justine Bagyenda (Director, Supervision, Commercial Banking at BoU), Susan Wasagali Kanyemibwa (Secretary, BoU) and Godfrey Yiga Masajja. Other witnesses are BoU lawayers, Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi (MMAKS) and David F K Mpanga among other witnesses.

On June 30, 2017, BoU sued  Sudhir, the founder and shareholder of the defunct Crane Bank and his investments firm Meera Investments Ltd to recover about Shs400bn extracted fraudulently from Crane Bank together with Freehold titles of Crane Bank’s branches, general damages, interest and costs.

Crane Bank is also accused of not remitting US$1.4 million staff contributions to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

However, in a defense filed in Uganda’s High Court (Commercial Division) on Thursday through his lawyers Kampala Associated Advocates, Sudhir denies engaging himself in fraudulent transactions, arguing that BoU was well aware of all the transactions that Crane Bank carried out.

Background

On October 20, 2016, BoU announced that it had taken over the management of Crane Bank Ltd after the bank became “a significantly undercapitalized institution.” Crane Bank was then the 4th largest bank by assets.

According to BoU, the minimum capital requirement for a bank to operate in Uganda is Shs25bn. Being significantly undercapitalized means the bank has less than 50% of the statutory requirements, says BoU.

On February 27, 2017, BoU announced the acquisition of Crane Bank by dfcu-at an undisclosed fee. It was revealed that dfcu beat off competition from other 12 financial institutions to emerge winner.

 

 

 

 

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