Sudhir wins BoU in Court of Appeal battle over Crane Bank in receivership to receive UGx397 Billion

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HE.Dr.Sudhir Ruparelia (Centre) and His right hand son Rajiv Ruparelia (left) and Peter Kabatsi lead counsel looks on during the celebrations of winning the Bank of Uganda appeal case at Court of Appeal, Nakasero on 23rd June 2020.

By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho

Court of appeal in Kampala has today issued a historic judgment that is likely to drain billions of tax payer’s money will be used to pay city businessman Sudhir Ruparelia after Court of Appeal on Tuesday dismissed a multi-billion case in which Bank of Uganda had sued the businessman and his Meera investments accusing them of siphoning over sh397bn from the defunct Crane Bank.

In a court ruling that was read in court on 23rd June 2020 by the registrar Mary Babirye, Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny -Dollo, Justice Cheborion Barishaki and Justice Steven Musota unanimously noted that after a careful perusal of the evidence, submitted they found no misconduct against Sudhir that would warrant litigation and henceforth, ordered Bank of Uganda to pay costs incurred by the businessman to defend himself.

Lawyers of Byamugisha & Co. Advocates represented Bank of Uganda whereas the Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) represented the Ruparelia Group and Meera Investments Ltd and the Crane Bank in receivership.

The Court of Appeal also noted that at the time of the filing of the suit in January 2017, Crane Bank Limited was already in receivership and a non-existing entity whose lifetime was terminated when Bank of Uganda sold its assets to DFCU in October 2016.

Bank of Uganda (BoU) /Crane Bank in receivership had sued Ruparelia and Meera Investments Limited accusing them of allegedly fleecing the defunct Crane Bank Limited (CBL) of sh397 billion that the central bank wants to be refunded.

The three judges also agreed with the High Court Judge David Wangutusi earlier ruling that being in receivership, Crane Bank had no capacity to institute legal proceedings against its former Director.

“In the instant case, we find no such misconduct relating to litigation on the part of the respondents and as such, we find no reason to deny the respondents’ costs of the suit. We, therefore, uphold the trial judge’s order as to costs. The appeal consequently fails. It is thus dismissed with costs here and the court below,” the judges ruled

In August last year Bank of Uganda appealed Justice David Wangutusi ruling in which he had dismissed on a technicality, the sh397b lodged by Crane Bank in receivership against Sudhir Ruparelia, and his Meera Investment Company.

Justice Wangutusi in his ruling noted that Crane Bank had been placed under receivership and was insulated against legal proceedings according to Section 96 of the Financial Institutions Act (FIA) and, therefore, had no powers to sue Ruparelia.

Addressing the media at the Court, Sudhir Ruparelia who was flanked by his right hand son Rajiv Ruparelia who is also the Managing Director of Ruparelia group together with the lawyers of Kampala Associated Advocates requested for sanity to return to Bank of Uganda.

HE.Dr.Sudhir and Son Rajiv Ruparelia (left) interacts with the press after winning the Bank of Uganda in an appeal case judgment at Court of Appeal on 23rd June 2020.

He noted that his lawyers would be submitting the costs they have incurred to BOU for compensation.

The judge also held that once Crane Bank was placed under receivership, it was insulated against legal proceedings according to Section 96 of the Financial Institutions Act and therefore had no powers to sue Dr. Ruparelia. He also went ahead and ordered BoU to pay costs that Mr Ruparelia used to successfully to prosecute this matter.The court of appeal upheld today the 2019 ruling of the commercial court.

“We find no such misconduct relating to litigation on the part of the respondents and as such, we find no reason to deny the respondents’ costs of the suit. We, therefore, uphold the trial judge’s order as to costs. The appeal consequently fails. It is thus dismissed with costs here and the court below,” the judges ruled on Tuesday.

Bank of Uganda (BoU) appealed against the ruling of Commercial Court head David Wangutusi, who dismissed a multibillion commercial dispute against City tycoon, Sudhir Ruparelia that had been filed by Crane Bank-in-receivership two years ago.

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