The ongoing legal battles between Bank of Uganda and its hired lawyers on one side, against city businessman Sudhir Ruparelia is far from over.
The latest development in the multi-billion shilling case involving the three parties arose after the Commercial Court ruled that lawyers Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi of MMAKS Advocates and David Mpanga of Mpanga-Bowmans law firm were acting to the detriment of Mr Ruparelia when they represented the BoU in a case involving the Crane Bank, now in receivership.
Consequently, the court ordered the two lawyers off the case, a development that has now reportedly set the BoU team on a collision path, with some senior officials in the Central Bank’s legal department against the idea of an appeal financed by the bank.
In a statement issued shortly after the ruling, the BoU indicated it would appeal against the ruling. But according to sources, several meetings held between officials of the legal and supervisory departments and other senior directors, in a bid to file an appeal on time have aborted or failed to yield any agreeable position.
This, the sources said, is because the BoU Director of Legal Department Ms Margaret Kasule insists that lodging an appeal in a case where BoU wasn’t a party will complicate the main suit that involves the Central Bank and Crane Bank, when the two sides are likely to start negotiations.
“We were not part to this suit involving ‘conflicted’ lawyers and therefore, our appeal will be more of trying to help the lawyers and yet we are ex-party,” Ms Kasule is quoted as saying by the source.
Another source told this website that in a subsequent meeting, the issue drew in the Deputy Governor Dr Louis Kasekende, who allegedly supported the idea of appealing but has reportedly since dropped the idea.
However, the sources said Ms Justine Bagyenda, the Director Supervision, has reportedly stuck to her guns of having BoU file an appeal and that she wants lawyers Mpanga and Masembe retained as counsel for the main suit. Nonetheless, the argument is being resisted by the legal department on grounds that the BoU and Crane Bank have already agreed for negotiation.
It should be recalled that in the ruling delivered by Commercial Court Registrar Lillian Bucyana on behalf of Justice David Wangututsi, the Judge said the continued representation of the BoU by Masembe Kanyerezi and Mpanga would defeat the importance of secrecy because both lawyers knew that there existed a ‘substantial relation between the applicant and them’.
“A lot of information must have flown between them; conflict of interest may not exist but secrecy. Mr. Mpanga negotiated and drafted the Confidential Settlement Agreement. The Settlement Agreement however, developed disagreements. The moment Mpanga drafted the agreement he should have known that this was part of the assignments with the applicant. And therefore his status as a potential witness is known,” Ms. Bucyana said.
In the same spirit, Mr Ruparelia insists he cannot hold negotiations with BoU when the ‘conflicted lawyers’ are part of the team.
And while addressing the press shortly after ruling Mr. Ruparelia said ‘some people in BoU’ want the two lawyers on the main suit just to share the legal fees.
Mr Ruparelia’s assertions are shared by a former of senior employee conversant with BoU especially on legal matters, who said all the BoU actions are bereft of prudence as is required of the Central Bank.
“All those things you are telling me are new; I left long ago but they never used to be there, and they are ongoing. Once big money is involved; know there is a big hand from outside and I am not surprised that it is drawing in directors at the institution,” the former BoU top official said.
Meanwhile, sources told the EagleOnlie that the BoU-Crane Bank internal fights’ saga turned political because of ‘succession battles’, reportedly because BoU Governor Emmanuel Mutebile is due for retirement.
The sources further said the ‘battles’ involve Deputy Governor Dr. Kasekende in one camp and Ms Bagyenda on the other side.
Initial information available indicates these two were formerly in one camp against Mutebile and also against the negotiation between BoU and Crane Bank but the internal politics have pitted them against each other now.
But the sources further said as the saga unfolds, Ms. Bagyenda is uncertain whither her contract will be renewed after she reportedly approached the BoU Director Human Resource with a view of resigning before the end of her contract.
Efforts to contact several officials cited in the saga were fruitless by press time.