Finance (373)

Cooperative Bank Closure: Tushabe Says BoU Has Frustrated Him For 20 Years

The Central Bank Governor, Emmanuel Mutebile has asked for more time to respond to allegations made by businessman Chris Tushabe who accused several officials at Bank of Uganda of frustrating his efforts at having access to his bank accounts details following the closure of Cooperative Bank.

While appearing before the Committee of Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) on Thursday, August 29, Tushabe made a number of allegations claiming that Justine Bagyenda, former Executive Director Banking Supervision and Bernard Ssekabira, Director Financial Markets of frustrating and selling off his property despite documents indicating he owed no loans to the defunct Cooperative Bank.

Tushabe told the Committee that even when President Yoweri Museveni issued a directive in 1999 to have all clients of Cooperative Bank be paid their money, 20 years down the road, he has never been paid and protracted court battles haven’t helped matters.

Struggling to contain his emotions, Tushabe said, “Bank of Uganda has absolutely no reason to hold my legitimate money and property. In November 1998, my young accountant who was 26years was removed from a bus in an ambush at night, brutally murdered and his mutilated body dumped in Queen Elizabeth National Park. He was on his way from a reconciliation exercise with Bank of Uganda officials in Kampala and my accounts documents were the only thing missing.”

He also said that his pursuit for his money also put his life at risk and saw him survive a number of assassination and in one attempt, his business colleague was murdered in what was an apparent case of mistaken identity.

“This gives you an idea on the fear and hostile atmosphere in which I have pursued my money from Bank of Uganda for more than 20years. When BOU took over Cooperative Bank officials refused to give me copies of my bank accounts. BOU’s denial of justice to me and release my bank account documents with impunity is due to the fact that officials who had mismanaged the Cooperative Bank were retained to liquidate the bank that they had run down,” said Tushabe.

He also accused Bank of Uganda of coercing him into selling his prime property in Nakasero Emin Pasha cheaply and was shocked when he received a demand notice of UGX424m in 2018 or risk going to jail.

“Although I have fought the war, I am seriously bruised and wounded. BOU admitted that my property worth 1.4bn was mismanaged. By 1998 was a high profile businessman. I have refused being compromised to pay bribes which was an option available. Through all these I have remained determined to get justice from BOU but all in vain.”

In his prayers, Tushabe is asking for refund of the Shs3Bn he held on his account at an interest rate of 25% as of 19th May 1999, as well as UGX600M he paid in bank draft which money ended up being swallowed by fraudsters at the Central Bank, monthly income rental of UGX5m per property from May 1999.

There was a contention by Mutebile who had initially declined to take an oath arguing, “Let us not make an issue here. I am not speaking today. I am not going to speak today because I hadn’t been prepared for the questions asked.”

COSASE Chairperson Mubaraka Munyagwa insisted on having Mutebile take oath arguing, “We made a ruling that whoever is testified for must take an oath. Oath isn’t a punishment. I don’t think there is any impunity that will be tolerated. I am one of the people that respect him most, but nobody will testify here without taking an oath.”

Margaret Kasule, Director Legal Affairs at Bank of Uganda said that Tushabe raised a number of claims which are subject to court proceedings and there is need to check for documents in the archives to respond to Tushabe allegations. Mutebile asked, “Can we have two weeks because these are serious matters, we have to search for archives.”

Source: PML Daily

Sudhir Wins Against BoU In Crane Bank Case

Commercial Court has Monday morning delivered a ruling of a case in which businessman Sudhir Ruparelia and his real estate company Meera Investment were being accused of fraud by the central bank through Crane Bank Limited (In Receivership).

In the ruling, Justice David Wangutusi of Commercial Court dismissed the allegations and ordered Bank of Uganda to pay for costs the applicants incurred.

The businessman, in Civil Suit No. 493 of 2017, is accused of stealing from Crane Bank Ltd, a bank he founded in 1995, Shs397bn over the years before it was taken over by the regulator in October 2016 for alleged mismanagement and insolvency while the same suit sought to have Meera Investment to hand over land on which Crane Bank had elected its branches to the central bank.

However, Dr. Ruparelia and Meera Investments filed an application against Crane Bank Limited (In Receivership) protesting that Crane Bank had no locus standi to sue, that the plaint in Civil Suit No. 493 of 2017 does not disclose a cause of action against the Applicant, that orders sought against the 2nd Applicant (Meera Investments) in Civil Suit No. 493 of 2017 are barred in law and that Civil Suit No. 493 of 2017 be dismissed with costs.

In court's pronouncement, Justice Wangutusi has agreed with Mr. Sudhir’s lawyers and maintained that BoU/Crane Bank (in receivership) did not have a legal basis to sue Sudhir.

“The end result is that once Crane Bank was put under Statutory Management, its Board of Directors was suspended. If there was to be any suit, it would be brought by the Central Bank as the Statutory manager under section 89(2)(e) or by the Liquidator with approval of the Central Bank under section 100(1)(a) of the Financial Institutions Act.”

“These two were empowered to initiate and defend court action by the Financial Institution Act which interestingly left out the Receiver. The Legislature did not want any court action against the Receiver. So Counsel’s submission that their right to sue was reserved by its company status cannot be sustained.”

“It follows that the Respondent under Receivership lacked locus standi. Without locus standi its attempt at filing a suit was null abi nitio.”

The Applicants’ (Dr. Ruparelia and Meera Investment) also in their application contend that it would be illegal to transfer freehold titles to the Respondent because she is a noncitizen. Bank of Uganda had sought that Meera Investment must deliver freehold certificates of title to 48 properties comprising the Crane Bank’s countrywide branch network together with duly executed transfer deeds.

Court however exclaimed that the law on ownership of land by noncitizens is crystal clear. Noncitizens cannot own land under Freehold or Mailo. For a company to hold land under the tenure herein described it must prove its citizenship.

And because Crane Bank majority shareholding were held by White Saphire Ltd (47.33%), a Mauritius registered company, and businessman Jitendra Sanghai (4%), a non-Ugandan, both entities amassing 51 percent ownership, it was regarded as a foreign company and cannot own land under the law of Uganda.

“For a company to hold land under the tenure herein described it must prove its citizenship. It is clear from the evidence on record that the majority of the shares were owned by White Sapphire, a company incorporated in Mauritius.

“That it owned the majority shares was a matter well known by the Central Bank because 47.33% of the shareholding was transferred to White Sapphire with the approval of the Bank of Uganda.

“Consequently any orders awarding delivery of Freehold title to the Plaintiff/ Respondent would be illegal and barred in law. The Respondent cannot hold freehold and any pleadings seeking court orders to that effect amount to no cause of action.

And because Crane Bank liabilities were transferred to DFCU, and because it is Bank of Uganda which instituted the suit, court has said will be liable to pay costs to the applicants.

"From the foregoing, there is no doubt that the suit was filed by Bank of Uganda. Since section 96 of the Financial Institutions Act insulated Crane Bank under Receivership from court proceedings, execution or other legal processes the person that should pay costs should be the person who instituted the suit and that is Bank of Uganda.

"This is so because Crane Bank in Receivership had no capacity to foot the costs and much so the Bank of Uganda that instituted the suit was aware of this incapacity.

Electrical Plaza To Meet Needs Of Traders In Kampala's CBD

Meera Investments, the real estate arm of Ruparelia Group, will soon unveil a new commercial property in the heart of Uganda’s capital Kampala.

Electrical Plaza, located between Market Street and Kiyembe Lane, downtown Kampala, will have 220 shops, 56 apartments and two floors of parking. The structure will cover a total area of 26,469.1m² place centrale.

According to Crane Management Services, another subsidiary of the Ruparelia Group, also the property managers of Electrical Plaza, the property is designed to support the needs of retailers and wholesalers.

Under Meera Investments, Ruparelia Group has been an enabler of small and medium enterprises by providing them with affordable commercial buildings where they set up shops and offices.

Some of the properties set up Ruparelia Group specifically for businesses are Banda Warehouses in Banda, Kingdom Kampala on Nile Avenue, Kampala Boulevard on Kampala Road, The Cube and Crane Plaza in Kisementi – Kamwokya.

Others are Hardware City on Entebbe Road, Hardware Plaza on Entebbe Road, Market Plaza on Market Street, City House and City Plaza on Kampala Road, Royal Plaza on Luwuum Street, The Plaza and Eagle Plaza on Jinja Road, Tourist Plaza near Nakasero Market and Ntinda Warehouse.

School Principal Advises Youths On Entrepreneurship

The Principal Kampala Parent’s School (KPS) Daphne Kato has advised the youth to take up entrepreneurship skills at an early age to be able to self-reliant and fight poverty.

The teacher was speaking to this website at the end of the week-long art and technology exhibition which took place at Kampala Parents’ School.

She said entrepreneurship skills will help the youth to be economically self-sustaining as opposed to looking at the government for white-collar jobs which are not handy.

Kato said her school has strategically invested in a fully-fledged integrated production scheme (IPS) faculty were pupils from all classes are exposed to several professional courses.

These courses include art and design, home economics, tailoring, handicraft and IT among others with a view to enable them become economically independent.

“We thank our bosses for putting in place all the necessary vocational skills training tools that our technical teams are using to impart key life skills to these young stars,” said Kato.

The IPS faculty at KPS is fitted with all brands of modern machines that pupils use to acquire vocational skills of their choice of which parents think can equip these pupils with knowledge for a bright future.

The Commissioner Private Schools in the ministry of education and sports George Mutekanga commended the proprietors of KPS for strategically investing in the education sector with the school offering quality education services to over 3,000 pupils.

“We commend the proprietors of KPS, the Ruparelia group, for setting up such a magnificent academic facility that has strategically enabled thousands of children to acquire world-class education for a bright future,” Mutekanga said.

dfcu On The Spot Over Transfer Of Meera Investments’ Properties

There are several matters that are still contestable following the 2017 dfcu takeover of Crane Bank. One of these matters is 48 Meera Investments Ltd’s properties that used to house several Crane Bank branches across the country.

While court is yet to decide on the matter of ownership of the said properties with property tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia arguing that they rightly belong to Meera Investments Ltd as Crane Bank whose majority shareholder was foreign owned (Mauritius registered White Sapphire Ltd) couldn’t own freehold property as stipulated by the law, it turns out dfcu already registered the properties in their names.

This dfcu move was on the advice or more rightly ill-advice of their lawyers Sebalu & Lule Advocates in May 2017. The lawyers were recently declared conflicted by court and can no longer represent dfcu in matters against Sudhir as they were previously his lawyers.

A leaked memo dated May 8, 2017, indicates that dfcu was reluctant to transfer the contestable properties into their names fearing that BoU and Crane Bank (in receivership) may fail to legally acquire the properties from Sudhir’s Meera Investments.

dfcu had preferred to place a caveat on the properties till BoU had taken their ownership from Sudhir and his Meera Investments.

Sebalu & Lule instead advised dfcu to transfer the contested properties into the bank’s names, a move that legal experts have criticized as rushed.

In the Asset Purchase Agreement between BoU and dfcu, BoU had 24 months to recover the said properties from Meera, but if the Central Bank failed to recover the properties within the stipulated 24 months, dfcu would rescind the purchase of the leasehold properties, return to BoU the certificates of title, duly retransferred into the names of CBL and deliver up to BoU vacant possession of the leased properties. BoU would in return refund a portion of the purchase price equivalent to the value of the properties.

The reason BoU made a two-year provision was because the matter was contentious and they were in the process of asking court to compel Meera Investments to hand over the titles of said properties to BoU.

BoU and Crane Bank (in receivership) in the meantime filed a case in the commercial court claiming that the 48 properties on which Crane Bank had their branch network originally belonged to Crane Bank but were transferred to Meera and subsequently leased to Crane Bank.

BoU asked court to order Sudhir’s Meera Investments to hand it the 48 freehold certificates together with duly executed transfer deeds in respect of each one of them in favour of Crane Bank.

It is on this basis that dfcu had preferred to place a caveat on the properties awaiting the outcome of the court process, but Sebalu & Lule advised them transfer the properties to dfcu names.

“Our opinion is that although the proposed approach of registering caveats provides dfcu with some level of legal protection, its indisputable title to the leasehold properties can only be guaranteed through registration of the transfers executed by BoU in favour of dfcu.”

The lawyers added that 24 months was a long time to wait for dfcu to resolve the ownership issues.

Sudhir contests transfer

Through his lawyers Kampala Associated Advocates, Sudhir went to the High Court’s Land Division suing both dfcu and the Commissioner for Land Registration challenging the transfer of his Meera Investments properties as an illegality, fraud, and tantamount to trespass.

Sudhir wants court to rule that Meera Investments is the registered proprietor of the properties and should have been consulted in any transfers of the land to dfcu. He reasons that since Meera was never consulted, the transactions were illegal and fraudulent. 

Sudhir wants court to declare dfcu a trespassers and prays that Meera be granted vacant possession of the properties on top of refunding mesne profits (profits of an estate received by a tenant in wrongful possession and recoverable by the landlord) with 20% interest as well as damages and costs of the suit.

Meanwhile, Sudhir filed a miscellaneous application earlier this year asking court to dismiss the BoU and Crane Bank (in receivership) case against him, arguing that the Financial Institutions Act does not allow a receiver to sue or be sued.

Sudhir also argues that Crane Bank’s claim to Meera Investments properties is preposterous since a non-citizen is barred from acquiring mailo or freehold land by the Land Act. The argument is that Crane Bank could not have owned the properties as the majority shareholders were non-citizens.

Commercial Court head Justice David Wangutusi set August 26 as the date for ruling on the application. If Sudhir wins this one, it would mean that he will also be most likely to win the main case and dfcu would have to grapple with the consequences of fraudulently transferring the Meera properties to themselves.

SOURCE: Matooke Republic

Sudhir Seeks Speaker’s Clarification On City Land Acquisition

A move by parliament to investigate how Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia acquired property of land on Kampala road has attracted a protest from the businessman.

Sudhir’s move is empowered by a recent court ruling stating that he genuinely acquired the said land.

Parliament, through the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase),  is investigating suspected fraud syndicate in the acquisition of 460 Departed Asians Properties.

Officials from the Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board have listed Plot 24 on Kampala Road, which belongs to Meera Investments Limited, as part of the properties suspected to have been wrongly acquired.

But Mr Ruparelia, in a letter dated 14th August 2019 to the Speaker of Parliament, wondered how COSASE is inquiring into the ownership of the property that was decided upon by the High Court in 2012.

He explained that they bought the property in 1995 and when the Custodian Board contested their move, they went to the High Court and the Judge ruled in their favour.

He said the Custodian board at the time did not appeal the court decision but wonders why they continue to list the property under those illegally acquired.

“Rt. Hon Speaker, in 2012, the Custodian Board claimed that former owner did not return to Uganda to manage the property and therefore the property belongs to Custodian Board and was by the state of their pen under their management.

Having bought the property and owned it since 1995 we went to High court for Judicial Review under LD CR 16 of 2012 to challenge the Custodian Board’s claim,” Mr Ruparelia said.

“High Court listened to us and also listened to Custodian Board (represented by Attorney General ) and made a decision in December 2012 in our favour. Custodian Board did not appeal. COSASE is now inquiring into a matter and ownership decided upon by the High Court in 2012,” he said.

“We are seeking clarification and guidance from you whether Parliament can inquire into a matter where the decision of Court has been made or where a matter is in Court. Then whenever matters in court come to an end, parties can come to Parliament for another decision We shall be grateful for our guidance.”

On December 20, 2012, Justice Joseph Murangira at the High Court at Kampala Land Division declared Sudhir under his Meera Investment Limited as the rightful owner of the land.

Prior, DAPCB had taken a decision that Sudhir was not the owner of Plot 24 Kampala Road thus stopping him from developing the land in question.

In his ruling, Justice Murangira said Sudhir/Meera Investment was in possession of the property since 1994 when he purchased it until it was subjected to the repossession process of properties that were expropriated when Asians were expelled from Uganda in 1972.

“Meera Investment approached the former owners (Rameshchandra Bhowan Kataria and the late Kershavlal Premchard Shah) before they were granted a certificate of repossession and they agreed to sell their estate and interest that is the property. Indeed they sold and transferred to Meera,” the Judge said.

He further said DAPCB expressly recognized Meera Investment’s intention to purchase the property from the former owners before repossession.

“This is reflected in the respondent’s letter dated January 5, 1995 (repossession certificate is dated March 31, 1995) signed by Mr Sam S. Male who has now made a u-turn in the respondent’s affidavit in reply.”

“The above-stated facts were not challenged by the respondents in his affidavit in reply to the application. The facts, therefore, are taken to have been admitted by the respondents.”

MPs Grill Kasekende Over Inconsistent Departed Asian Properties Payments

Parliament is fast becoming a haunted house for the deputy governor Bank of Uganda, Dr Louis Kasekende. Often times when he makes an appearance in that August house all does not go well for him.

Kasekende’s lates appearance at Parliament was on Tuesday to give accountability of the Shs800 million that was meant to be paid to the Departed Asians Properties Custodian Board (DAPCB).

The money had been kept in Bank of Uganda and legislators wanted to know why the custodian board had not received any penny. Kasekende said he does not recall any claim from DAPCB adding that all individuals and firms had been compensated.

“We wrote out information and published in the newspapers asking those who had accounts to come for their money. The Custodian Board should explain why they did not come. According to the information I have, all account holders were paid. Why is this an exception?” he queried.

MPs then tasked Kasekende to explain why some individuals had received double compensation for properties that were still under contestation.

The deputy governor replied that the central bank only made payments upon receiving instructions from DAPCB.

“The paying agent will not answer those questions. I have not made an audit of how many properties were compensated. The information we are giving you, we got it in our archives,” he stated.

A subcommittee of COSASE is investigating circumstances under which Asian properties that were compensated for by government found their way into the hands of senior government officials.

The Members of Parliament have since asked the government officials who handled the Departed Asians properties to table proof of compensation for each property.

The select sub-committee is chaired by Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi.

SOURCE: Nile Post

DFCU’s Mathias Katamba Quitting, Opting For Centenary Bank

It doesn’t get any better for dfcu Bank. The man they hired to bring back sanity at the commercial bank is quitting, joining their more stable rivals Centenary Bank.

Just over six months after replacing Juma Kisaame as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dfcu bank, sources say Mathias Katamba is now poised to join Centenary Bank as Managing Director, replacing Fabian Kasi. Full

Katamba officially joined Dfcu bank on January 2, 2019, following the departure of Kisaame whose leadership would see the bank involved in the scandalous acquisition of its rivals, Crane Bank Limited (GTBU) and Global Trust Bank Uganda (GTBU) in 2017 and 2014 respectively, after the Bank of Uganda BoU controversially closed and offered them for sale.

Katamba joined Dfcu bank from Housing Finance Bank but sources within Dfcu bank say he has not had a good working relationship with the top managers he found there. Among them is Chief of Business and Executive Director, William Sekabembe who had declined to join KCB Uganda as MD on anticipation that he would replace Kisaame. It is also said Katamba’s working relationship with Dfcu bank Chairman Jimmy Mugerwa is not good either.

In May this year, it was rumoured that Sekabembe was contemplating leaving Dfcu bank after he was denied chance to become its top chief executive as earlier promised by the Board of Directors.

While announcing the appointment of Katamba in January Dfcu Chairman Elly Karuhanga said then that: “We look forward to his (Katamba) taking the helm at Dfcu and believe he is well placed to continue the progress of the bank, building on the successes of his predecessor to the benefit of all stakeholders, contributing to the very important business sector in which Dfcu operates and to the growth of the Uganda economy as a whole.”

SOURCE: Eagle Online

Ruparelia Group's Meera, Sudhir Top Compliant Taxpayers

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has released a list of top tax payers in the financial year 2018-2019 and it is good news for conglomerate Ruparelia Group. URA however doesn’t give amounts each respective firm remitted in taxes.

According to URA, Meera Investment Limited, a real estate subsidiary of Ruparelia Group, topped the list of Non-Individual Rental Income Taxpayers while the Group’s owner, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia, came second on the list of Individual Rental Income taxpayers.

Meera Investment, on the list Non-Individual Rental Income Taxpayers, was followed by Golf Course Group Limited, BIDCO Uganda Limited, British American Tobacco Uganda and The Jubilee Investments Company to make the top five.

Meera Investments has since 1994 been in the business of building and maintaining commercial, residential properties as well as several warehouses in Uganda and beyond.

Dr. Ruparelia, was came second behind Alnasir Virani Gulam Hussein Habib while Mohammed Hussein, Virani Amin and Nakayima Janat were third, fourth and fifth respectively on the list of Individual Rental Income taxpayers.

Under Ruparelia Group, Dr. Ruparelia has invested in the finance, real estate, entertainment, hospitality, tourism, insurance, education, floriculture and labour externalization. All these business remit millions in taxes to URA.

Bank Of Uganda Spent $33m On Unstable System

Bank of Uganda (BoU) loves spending the tax payer’s money. And when they spend, they spend big. The latest news is that the central bank spent US $33 million on its Real Time Settlement System (RTGS) that had a malfunction on Wednesday.

According to sources that spoke to Eagle Online said the system’s brief breakdown on Wednesday affected government payments and interbank transactions.

“However, sources say the RTGS is supposed to have two back-up systems in case of a malfunction or crash. Sources say they doubt whether the two systems were installed on computers at the central bank,” Eagle Online reported.

 RTGS systems are usually operated by a country’s central bank as it is seen as a critical infrastructure for a country’s economy. Economists say that an efficient national payment system reduces the cost of exchanging goods and services, and is indispensable to the functioning of the interbank, money, and capital markets.

A weak payment system may severely drag on the stability and developmental capacity of a national economy; its failures can result in inefficient use of financial resources, inequitable risk-sharing among agents, actual losses for participants, and loss of confidence in the financial system and in the very use of money.

In a statement Thursday BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile said the system experienced a temporary malfunction and it did not crash as reported in the sections of the local media.

“It should be noted that this was not a system crash as has been portrayed in the media. There was a brief disruption in transaction processing in the morning which was resolved shortly thereafter,” Tumusiime-Mutebile said.

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