Additional reporting by Racheal Agaba
KAMPALA – Businessman Sudhir Ruparelia has described his successful lawsuit against Bank of Uganda (BoU) and Crane Bank in receivership as a victory against the mafia.
The Commercial Court on Monday dismissed the case in which BoU had accused Mr Ruparelia of fleecing his own bank (Crane Bank in receivership) of UGX. 397 billion.
Addressing journalists after the ruling, the business described the ruling as “historic”.
“This is historic. Nobody has in the past been able to take on the Central Bank (heads on). They have stolen from several closed banks and not accounted to any shareholders,” he said.
“I think this is a big win [against] the mafias (sic) holding this country at ransom,” Mr Ruparelia added.
The law suit arose in June 2017, when Crane Bank in receivership, sued Mr Ruparelia and his Meera Investments Ltd, the real estate arm of his business, for allegedly fleecing his own bank of Shs397b in fraudulent transactions and land title transfers.
Mr Ruparelia denied the allegations and counter-sued BoU, seeking compensation of $8m (Shs28b) in damages for breach of contract.
“How do you just steal my bank; you (BoU) claim you injected Shs478bn in Crane Bank (to revive it) but can’t account for it! Where’s it all gone? Someone has just stolen in the name of Crane Bank,” he said on Monday.
“They did not value our assets, the cash in the bank. All the money was just stolen. This is terrible! They stole the money and bought the property. This is unfortunate and a sad part of the scenario that you take somebody’s assets you steal it, profit from it and you do not account for it,” he said.
He thanked his son, Rajiv Ruparelia for the being by his side throughout the case and his lawyers from Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA), saying they are true professionals and not conflicted like others.
The substantive case has since been under mediation on the advice of the head of the Commercial Court on grounds that a losing party would pay heavily if it goes for full trial.
Bank of Uganda on October 20, 2016 placed Crane Bank under statutory management for being under-capitalised and according to Governor Tumusiime Mutebile, to stem infection of the country’s financial system.
The central bank attributed the under-capitalisation to mismanagement and insider lending, resulting in Crane Bank’s unsustainable non-performing loan portfolio. The bank was later sold to dfcu Bank at Shs200b, although the central bank retained some of its liabilities.