President Yoweri Museveni has been asked to intervene in the matter involving Bank of Uganda, Crane Bank and businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia that has seen the central bank waste a lot of time and money in pursuing the businessman in court.
A petition that was written by Ssempala Zahid, the national spokesperson for Poor Youth Movement, wants President Museveni to intervene and save taxpayers from costs brought by what he described as incompetent Bank of Uganda staff in the case of Crane Bank under receivership against Meera Investments and Sudhir Ruparelia.
“We are writing to inform you that, on 23rd June 2020, in the middle of the COVID 19 Pandemic, in the worst period for all Ugandans locked down, the Court of Appeal (Court) ruled yet again against Crane Bank Limited in Liquidation (CBL) in a case where BOU filed to recover Shs397bn from Dr Sudhir Ruparelia claiming that he allegedly siphoned the same from CBL before it was closed and sold in 2017,” Ssempala says.
“It ought to be noted, that under HCCS 493 of 2017 the High Court had dismissed the case on the grounds among others that Crane Bank Limited (CBL) once put under receivership lost its ability to sue, that the statutory time for receivership was limited to 12 months.
That Crane Bank Limited was a foreign company and lacked locus to own land Free Hold or own the 48 properties that had been seized by the BOU and sold to DFCU bank and that there was no cause of action as there was nothing to sue for, as all assets had been sold to DFCU bank,”
“Upon dismissal of the case, CBL / BOU was condemned to pay costs of the suit which was at that time at 25% per annum of a sum believed to be in billions of shillings plus other legal costs,”
The petitioner explains that the greed in the BoU Legal Department misled the Board to authorise an Appeal which was filed to the Court of Appeal Civil Appeal No. 252 of 2019 “this appeal was dismissed and the costs awarded to Meera investments limited and Sudhir Ruparelia yet again. The total taxed bill is yet to be filed which according to Legal experts could be anything on the region of 150bn which will be visited on the taxpayers’ money, as BoU does not have its own money to pay those costs and will have to seek for recapitalization or a refund from Government after payment”.
“Your Excellency, it should be worth noting that, the government is currently facing deep budget cuts and might not realize the 22trillion budget for 2020/2021. This condition will be further aggravated by payment of the legal costs by taxpayers in the suit which by law must be paid and considering views/ analysis of legal experts will be lost again in the Supreme Court in the event of an Appeal,” he stressed.
“BoU has a litany of lost cases where billions have been paid to claimants and winners of cases. The performance of the Bank’s Legal Department could be as a result of over-reliance on so-called external legal experts who are bent on appealing any losses given that they will be paid. And as it is common knowledge, the higher they Appeal, the higher their fees.
A law firm billed BoU over 13bn for services in the CBL closure which services where later on regarded as ineffective and contrary to the law by COSASE as parliament faulted BOU in deliberately disregarding the law or legal procedures in the process of closure of CBL, which leaves one wondering why the said “legal experts” were paid a hefty 13bn for wrong advice,”
“Your Excellency, this cannot be sustained anymore by the taxpayer given the dwindling tax base consumed by the negative impact of COVID 19 on the Government’s bottom line,”
He also stressed that the case of closure of CBL and indeed other Banks have been a subject of investigation and probe by parliament and others which established that BOU had not done its job well and COSASE made a raft of proposals for reform of supervision and Legal Department which have all been washed aside by the Bank and the Ministry of Finance which should have given Parliament and Cabinet an update of the progress in implementing the COSASE recommendations.
“Instead the BoU has continued to accumulate costs in lost cases especially on CBL which ceased to be a Legal matter when it was evident the closure had all the hallmarks of a failed and botched regulatory action,”
“Your Excellency, you have recently demonstrated your ability to axe incompetent public officials who have either failed to execute their mandate or caused loss to Ugandan taxpayers. We beg you to take action over the incompetence in our mother bank,”
Ssempala fears that there are many questions which have left the Wanainchi puzzled like; When will someone be asked to account for actions of this Institution? When we have Governor BoU the same time chairman of the board, who punishes the Governor when he fails to execute his mandate as we all watched him pointing fingers at junior officers during the COSASE probe and junior officers pointing back?, When will Ugandans survive this wanton squander of public authority? When will BoU Board and its top Executives be called to order?
“As soon as the ruling was made dismissing the Appeal, the same Legal Head Mrs Margaret Kasule was summoned by the Board which was sitting on that same day to advise on the way forward and as expected, the Legal Head advised that the only way out of this was through an appeal to the Supreme Court. Indeed several interactions and engagements are underway to file an appeal to the Supreme Court where one of the Justices who dismissed the case is likely to be seated again this time as Chief Justice as he is Acting Chief Justice at the moment”.
“Even a blind person will see that this case which has so far cost Ugandans in excess of 20bn in costs to Lawyers is a waste of public resources. The COVID 19 pandemic has slowed down productivity, Ugandans have borne the brunt of biting poverty, revenue collection estimates have been reduced drastically fiscal discipline and austerity measures have been proposed and now Ugandans have to watch and see as the usual mistakes are being repeated by the same advisors misleading the BoU Board into entering a bottomless pit that is likely to cost BoU an arm and a leg”.
“Many questions have been raised by the public in regard to the viability of the said Appeal by BOU to the Supreme Court like; what is the ultimate goal of this appeal, is it to appease the Governor or the President? Is it to recover real money? If so how much has the BoU recovered in the last 20 years of Bank resolutions?”.
“The Bank has instead sunk billions into the coffers of expensive unthankful legal sharks who have no heart for Ugandans but their wallets”.
“Your Excellency, as your Bazukulu and taxpayers who feel the pinch of our monies being wasted by BOU in endless litigation, the purpose of this petition is to say enough is enough. Let this wanton disregard to the financial bleeding of BoU STOP HERE. Let Sudhir Ruparelia be paid his money and let Ugandans start with a new slate”.