Bank Of Uganda Injured My Reputation As A Businessman, They Must Pay - Ruparelia Vows

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed, with costs to the respondents, an appeal by Bank of Uganda against businessman Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments, the real estate arm of the Ruparelia Group, bringing to end a five year litigation battle between the businessman and the central bank.

The five justices of Supreme Court including Rubby Opio Aweri, Percy Tuhaise, Ezekiel Muhanguzi,Prof. Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza and Faith Mwondha also ordered that the management of Crane Bank (in receivership) be returned to its shareholders, the original owners.

Now, in an interview with Spy Uganda, a local online news website, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia has lamented that Bank of Uganda actions to close Crane Bank and allegation of mismanaging the bank he founded injured his reputation as a businessman.

"I made heavy losses because of Bank of Uganda. My reputation as a businessman was destroyed. I have never failed any business. Bank of Uganda killed my career when they said I had failed my own business, Crane Bank. That has a bearing especially with my business partners,"

He added: "I told you from the beginning that Bank of Uganda stole my bank. I thank the judiciary for not shielding such dubious games. They have to pay costs of the suit right from the commercial court to the Supreme Court,"

When Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia lost Crane Bank over alleged mismanagement, by law, it meant that he cannot open or directly run another financial institution. In fact, because of that, he also lost his forex bureaus.  This, he says, is not good for his name and business.

Equity Bank Sells Simbamanyo House To Meera Investments

Meera Investments Limited, a company owned by businessman Sudhir Ruparelia, has emerged as the best bidder and now becomes the owner of Simbamanyo House, the building that accommodates Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

The building, located at Plot 2 Lumumba Avenue, was auctioned by Equity Bank Uganda in an effort to recoup an unpaid loan amounting to about $8.1m from Simbamanyo Estates.

In a letter to tenants, Equity Bank announced the takeover and asked them to corporate with Meera Investment, the new landlord.

“We are writing to inform you that Equity Bank Uganda Limited, as mortgage, has completed the sale of the above-mentioned property, after a public auction concluded on October 8, 2020, to the best evaluated bidder M/s Meera Investments Limited.

“The new owners will be getting in touch with all tenants individually to work out the modalities for their ownership transition. We trust you will accord the new owners all courtesy and all future rental payments and other tenant inquiries and obligation will be handled by Meer Investments Ltd or their agents," Equity Bank said in a notice.

Sam Kirubi, the managing director of Equity Bank, who signed of the notice, said that all the tenants were put on notice about the auctioning of the property in an advert placed in Daily Monitor newspaper on September 8.

Meera Investments Limited was also immediately after the sale registered on the title of Plot 2 Lumumba Avenue. Johnson Bigiira, the senior registrar of titles in Ministry of Lands said Meera Investments Limited was registered on the title under Instrument Number KCCA 00074649.

Sudhir said that Meera Investment participated in the competitive bidding and his $5m was displayed as the best evaluated bid.

“Meera Investments Limited were the highest bidder for the auction from Equity Bank and acquired the property by the pay of $5m. We are ready to meet our new tenants and promise to cooperate with them,” Sudhir said.

Simbamanyo Estates is embroiled in a property dispute with Equity Bank Uganda and Equity Bank Kenya resulting from unpaid loans.

Documents in the Commercial Division of the High Court show that on August 20, 2012, Equity Bank entered into a financial transaction agreement that would lead the financial institution to release $6m to Simbamanyo Estates.

The two banks, details indicate, pooled money together to advance the facility with at least $3.5m drawn from Equity Bank Kenya and $2.5m from Equity Bank Uganda.

Simbamanyo Estates which acquired the loan to finance the construction of Afrique Suites Hotel in Mutungo failed to meet its loan obligation leading to the situation at hand.

The total outstanding including interest and operational fees, among others, court documents show, would come to at least $8.10m.

Fred Muwema, the lawyer representing Simbamnayo Estate in this matter, said the matter is still in court and that there is caveat already on the property forbidding transfer until the case is heard and resolved.

“The battle is not over and as we speak, we are in possession of the property, I don’t understand why the bank is in the hurry. This has happened before and we took it away from them. The bank should wait until the final decision on this matter is made.” Muwema said.

Meera Investments Wants Finance Minister To Suspend Tax Amendment Bills 2020 Over Coronavirus

Meera Investments through their lawyers have Kampala Associated Advocates have written to Finance Minister, Matia Kasajia objecting some of the proposed amendments in the Tax Amendment bills-2020 which is before a committee of parliament.

According to Eagle Online, Meera Investments which is the top taxpayer for the rental category in their letter to the minister said the bill will have an adverse effect on many businesses given that the entire world will be resurrected from the effects of Coronavirus.

Government has introduced the Tax Amendment Bills 2020 and now before parliament with the hope of filling that taxation gaps in the budget. However, the bill is facing resistance from real estate developers and owners given the proposals contained in the bill.

“During the current lockdown, we were made aware of the tabling of the 2020 Tax Amendment Bills. We have had consultations with our tax lawyers, Kampala Associated Advocates, and we write to inform you that some of the bills will have an adverse effect on many of our businesses and we seek your indulgence to prevent adversity. Below are the amendments that we humbly propose you further scrutinize and change based on areas of speciality” reads part of the letter from KAA.

The proposed amendment is that an “owner of more than one commercial building shall account for the tax on each building separately and shall not claim input of incomplete buildings.

However, Meera Investments says many of them in the real estate industry run their businesses through companies and therefore, one company will have may be five to fifty buildings. Under the proposed amendment, it would mean that for each of the fifty buildings one must account for the tax separately. This creates the following complications:

“It would mean that if I have ten acres on plot 41 Kampala Road and on them I have ten buildings, I have to account for each building separately. This means that I must now demarcate between buildings one to ten and each must have its own tax identification number (TIN). The reason that each must have its own TIN is because I must account for the tax separately.

The effect of this is that at the end of the day, I shall have one company with ten to fifty TIN numbers. Worse still, this also means that I shall have one company with ten to fifty different invoices for the same project. This makes accounting difficult and will create confusion among the real estate companies. The company would also have to obtain various tax clearance certificates for each of the buildings. This would be outrageous because one company would have over 50 tax clearance certificates”.

SSOURCE: Eagle Online (click for full story)

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