KAMPALA–Court on Tuesday appointed city lawyer Harriet Magala to mediate in the case where Bank of Uganda wants businessman Sudhir Ruparelia to repay UGX397 billion he allegedly stole from Crane Bank Ltd.
Magala’s appointment as mediator was revealed by Vincent Mugabo the Judiciary spokesperson and Registrar in charge of mediation at the Commercial Court in Kampala.
Mugabo said that Magala has been mediating at the Commercial Court since 2010. Her experience in the period since then will be put to the test in what looks like a complex case of competing interests between politics wealth and patronage.
If the two parties reach an agreement, there will be no need for court to proceed with the trial.
Her efforts will not be the first attempt for the two camps to resolve their differences amicably. In March this year, the businessman agreed to repay the money and signed a Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement (CSRA).
Each party, however, accuses the other of breaching the CSRA.
Sudhir recently filed his defence in the case, vehemently denying the accusations that he illegally siphoned Shs 397 billion from Crane Bank, and also transferred the bank’s land titles to his company Meera Enterprises.
The tycoon also filed a counter-suit against Bank of Uganda and Crane Bank, accusing them of breaching the agreement signed in March.
The blame games
Sudhir has consistently blamed BoU of being behind the collapse of what was once the largest bank in the country with assets in excess of Shs 1.8 trillion.
He also blames the bank’s distress on several customers trading in the volatile South Sudan whose businesses failed and even sought bailout from government.
He states that the said business people had sought the government bailout in order to pay back loans they had obtained from Crane Bank.
He further blames BoU for having, in July 2016, stopped Crane Bank from carrying out various activities such as issuing Letters of Credit, Bank Guarantees, Bid Bonds, Performance Bonds and writing of fresh loans to boost the bank’s capital base.