By Kasozi Nasser Akandwanaho
Officials from Ruparelia Group of Companies (RGC) have advised the Central Bank of Uganda (BOU) to pay the Shs 379bn, instead of wasting the taxpayer’s money and time that they are appealing against the judgment where the Court of Appeal ordered it (BOU) to pay Shs 379bn in a Crane Bank case.
Last week, the Court of Appeal dismissed an Appeal that had been filled by BOU against an earlier judgment that had dismissed a Shs379bn commercial dispute between Crane bank (in receivership) and tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia. BoU was ordered to pay Shs379bn to business tycoon
“We have no problem to take them on in the appeal, we are ready even if they go to the East African Court of Justice we shall battle them,” one official from RGC who preferred anonymous said
Officials from Ruparelia advised BOU to concede and pay the money since the prolonging of the case will still cost the tax payer’s money.
Their advice comes in a time when BoU issued a statement indicating that they will appeal in the Supreme Court, protesting what they called unlawful dismissal of the case by the Court of Appeal.
“The public is also invited to note that neither the High Court nor the Court of Appeal has yet considered or taken a decision on the claims for wrongful and illegal extraction of funds from Crane Bank as claimed in the main suit,” reads part of the statement.
In the statement, BoU said that, “This decision was necessary upon discovering that Crane Bank had significant and increasing liquidity problems that could not be resolved without the Central Bank’s intervention given that Crane Bank had failed to obtain credit from anywhere else.,”
“An inventory by external auditors found that the assets of Crane Bank were significantly less than its liabilities. In order to protect the financial system and prevent loss to the depositors of Crane Bank, Bank of Uganda had to spend public funds to pay Crane Bank’s depositors,”
A subsequent forensic investigation as to why Crane Bank became insolvent found a number of wrongful and irregular activities linked to Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments Ltd, according to BOU.
“BoU set about resolving the affairs of Crane Bank in a manner that would safeguard depositors, preserve the safety of the financial system, and restore the taxpayers’ money that had been deployed to prevent loss to depositors and a potential financial crisis,”
According to BoU statement its alleging that,the investigations, Mr. Ruparelia illegally and secretly owned 100% shareholding in Crane Bank in breach of the Financial Institutions Act, 2004, using that position of control, Ruparelia wrongfully and illegally extracted from Crane Bank amounts totaling to $ 92.8m and Shs 8.2bn and he also transferred freehold property beneficially owned by Crane Bank into the names of Meera Investments Ltd in which he and his family are the majority shareholders, without giving value to Crane Bank and rendering the Bank a tenant on its own property with a liability to pay rent to Meera Investments Ltd,
In this effort, Dr.Sudhir Ruparelia signed a Settlement and Release Agreement with BoU on 20 March 2017 in which he undertook to pay a sum of $60m and to return land titles that had been irregularly taken from Crane Bank, which is the actual owner of the branches on which its branch network sat across the country.
However information obtained from an officer from the Ruparelia group who preferred anonymity told the Homeland Newspaper that all the allegations by BoU as they are in the press release are mischiefs and misleading and just trying to win public sympathy by justifying their mistakes of illegally closing Uganda’s commercial banks and as well wasting tax payer’s money.
Accordingly,”we are ready to battle with Bank of Uganda (BoU) until they learn that whatever they did to close Crane Bank and other banks were illegal and that they the officials who were involved in the fraudulent sale of Crane Bank and trying to grab its properties are properly investigated and prosecuted by authorities” source from Ruparelia groups said.