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Commercial Court set for Sudhir Vs BoU ruling in disputed UGX. 397b Central Bank claim

Sudhir Ruparelia, a Ugandan business magnate and investor. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA –  The High Court will a week on Monday, August 26 decide on the preliminary objection by city tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia in the case in which the Bank of Uganda took him to court,  with the aim of recovering UGX. 397 billion.

After successfully blocking three sets of Bank of Uganda and dfcu Bank lawyers from a representation in the case, after court indicted them for conflict of interest, Mr. Sudhir will be looking to do a double on the Central Bank after his Attorneys cited numerous authorities in bringing up the objection.

The businessman, through his lawyers — Kampala Associated Advocates has rubbished claims by the Central Bank that he allegedly fleeced his own Crane Bank Ltd of Shs397 billion in fraudulent transactions.

Justice David Wangutusi set July 26 for the ruling after Mr Ruparelia through his Kampala Associated Advocates  lawyers asked the court to dismiss the BOU case arguing that the central bank  overstepped it’s mandate in filing the case.

Lawyer Elison Karuhanga of KAA argued that when dissolving a bank, BoU had three options — puting someone in management in what is called statutory management, receivership or liquidation.

” [The central bank]chose to go for receivership. Under the law, specifically, only the manager and the liquidator can sue. The case cannot be filed by a receiver,” said Mr Karuhanga argued.

Sudhir’s lawyers faulted BoU for acting hurriedly and overstepping her mandate in hurriedly selling off the Bank to dfcu Bank, a deal that has since attracted criticism.

“The receiver cannot be sued on that act and cannot sue anyone. His action is protected by the law. The second point we are raising is that the receivership is limited by time, the law gives the receiver 12 months to carry out his or her  functions and after this, he cannot do anything,” Mr Karuhanga argued.

According to Mr Karuhanga, BoU had 12 months within which to carry out the four functions which did not include suing.

Mr Bruce Musinguzi also argued that Mr Sudhir was no longer the majority owner of Crane Bank that he founded after Mr Rasik Kantaria, a Kenyan national, on December 6, 2010, snapped up 47 per cent of the bank’s shares.

He added that Mr Kantaria later transferred his shares to White Sapphire Ltd, a company incorporated in Mauritius and that a one Jitendera Sanghani, a British citizen, held 4 per cent stake in Crane Bank.

He also contends that under Uganda’s Constitution and the Land Act, Crane Bank in Receivership could not own or hold freehold property and was, therefore, not capable of holding the suit property in it’s names.

In response to the submissions of Sudhir’s lawyers, BoU through it”s lawyer Dr. Joseph Byamugisha told the court that when a financial institution is placed under receivership, the power to commerce or to continue with the civil suit does not stop.

About the case:

The BoU on January 25, 2017, placed Crane Bank Ltd under the receivership. Later that same year, the central bank alongside Crane Bank sued Mr Ruparelia and his Meera Investments Ltd for allegedly fleecing his own bank of Shs397b in fraudulent transactions. Mr Ruparelia has roundly dismissed the allegations and counter-sued the Central Bank, seeking compensation of $8m (Shs28b) in damages for breach of contract.

Mr Sudhir has since successfully petitioned court to block lawyers Kanyererezi Masembe of MMAKS Advhocates, David Mpanga and Sebalu & Lule Advocates from representation in the case after court ruled that they were conflicted.

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