Real estate mogul Sudhir Ruparelia has turned down mediation talks with Bank of Uganda (BoU) over the collapse of Crane Bank.
The High Court had asked BoU and Sudhir to settle the case out of Court (through mediation), but the latter has rejected the mediation plans, arguing that BoU which sued him through Crane Bank Ltd (in receivership) should first respond to his defense.
“I thought that mediation would only commence after pleadings have closed. Crane Bank and Bank of Uganda need to file their responses to the counter claim before any mediation can commence. That is why I don’t think anything (mediation with BoU) will happen on Thursday,” Sudhir said.
He added: “…Court can only start mediation when pleadings are in and each side understands the other’s case. It is important to close pleadings before mediation starts because parties cannot change their case based on mediation discussions. They have no case and are afraid of the embarrassment in public if they don’t have good answers to our case.”
On June 30, 2017, BoU through its lawyers MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates sued Sudhir, the founder and shareholder of the defunct Crane Bank and his investments firm Meera Investments Ltd to recover about Shs400bn that was allegedly extracted fraudulently from Crane Bank.
BoU also seeks to recover Freehold titles of Crane Bank’s branches that were transferred to Meera Investments, 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) last 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.
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.