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More sinned against! Sudhir to appear before MPs Banks probe today

Business Mogul, Sudhir Ruperalia speaks at a recent ceremony. The businessman and proprietor of the defunct Crane Bank is set to appear before COSASE Wednesday morning in a bank probe into the controversial closure of banks by Bank of Uganda (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA- City tycoon Sudhir Rupareria faces the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) on Wednesday morning where he will for the first time, directly speak about the controversial closure of his Crane Bank Ltd, among the seven commercial banks under parliamentary scrutiny.

The committee led by Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu is it’s final phase of the enquiry into the irregular closure of seven defunct commercial banks, that has put key central bank officials into the spotlight including Ms Justine Bagyenda, who was forced out following the controversial sale of Crane Bank Ltd sale to dfcu Bank for a paltry Shs 200 billion .

After a raft of evidence before the committee, it is understood that Mr Rupareria is more sinned against after the central bank sought to blame him for the problems leading up to the closure of the bank after leads indicated a more rotten system at BoU.

The central bank in October 2016 closed Crane Bank Ltd, previously one of the best performing banks before controversially selling it dfcu Bank in January 2017 for a paltry Shs 200 billion.

In the previous testimonies, Mr Katimbo Mugwanya, a former director at BoU who was appointed Statutory Manager for the sale of Crane Bank Ltd, admitted that he had bungled up the calculations on how the money that was injected in Crane Bank Ltd was deduced.

Governor Mr Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile told MPs that he did not have figures regarding Crane Bank’s undercapitalisation but was contradicted by Mr Benedict Ssekabira, the Director Financial Markets Coordination, who said Crane Bank required a further injection of Shs157b for it to remain afloat.

Former BoU Director of Supervision, Justine Bagyenda and the director of Financial Markets Development Coordination, Ssekabira take center stage in the on going Bank Probe (FILE PHOTO)

On the other hand, Ms Justine Bagyenda, who was the executive director of commercial banks supervision when Crane Bank was closed, indicated that the bank required an additional capital of at least Shs32b by September 15, 2016, and progressive capital of Shs56b if capital adequacy was to be restored by October 31, 2017.

Mr Sudhir’s testimony on Wednesday will give the MPs a perspective on all these aspects.

The MPs have also summoned lawyers Kanyererezi Masembe from Masembe, Makubuya, Adriko, Karugaba & Ssekatawa (MMAKS Advocates) and David Mpanga who will be quizzed on how much BoU paid them as legal fees for several cases involving the closed banks.

MMAKS will also be required to clear the air over whether BoU hired them as transaction advisers in the disputed Crane Bank takeover at a fee of $251,045 (about Shs943.3m).

In handpicking MMAKS, MPs have already warned that Ms Bagyenda usurped the powers of the legal department by taking over the drafting of the terms of engagement between BoU and MMAKS.

The COSASE inquiry into the conduct of Bank of Uganda and it’s officials in the closure of seven banks, with some ending up in massive controversy has been focusing on the mismanagement of closed banks by BoU after the Auditor General Mr John Muwanga issued a stinging criticism of the central bank in a special audit that cited massive flaws in the closure of Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), The Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and the sale of Crane Bank Ltd (CBL) to dfcu (2016).

So far, several central bank officials including Ms Justine Bagyenda the sacked former Executive Director of Supervision have been in the spotlight for their role in the sale of closed banks.

Ms Bagyenda and Mr Benedict Ssekabira, the director of Financial Markets Development Coordination, have been carpeted after they failed to present evidence of reports on how the value of assets of three closed commercial banks assessed so far, was reduced from Shs117b to Shs98b after the Central Bank took over the liquidation.

In the aftermath of the inquiry deputy governor, Dr. Louis Kasekende has had massive leaks of his vast property portfolio now a subject of verification by the Inspector General of Government and investigation by the committee

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