Crane Chambers, formerly headquarters of Crane Bank.

The DFCU Bank and the Commissioner for Land Registration are on the spotlight after Meera Investments Limited went to court seeking declaration that the process through which the DFCU bank acquired possession of 48 properties of MIL was illegal and fraudulent.

Meera Investments Limited that dragged the two defendants to the High Court Commercial Division, is multi-billion real estate company owned by billionaire businessman Sudhir Ruparelia and his family.

‘The matter in issue in this suit is the illegal and fraudulent registration of the 1st Defendant as a lessee on the 48 properties forming the subject matter of the suit.

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The Plaintiff as the registered proprietor of the Freehold/Mailo interest did not grant nor consent to the transfer of any of the leases in favour of the 1st Defendant, neither did it consent to the takeover of possession of the suit property by the 1st Defendant,’ a February 13 reply to a Statement of Defence filed by Meera Investments Limited against the DFCU Bank and the Commissioner for Land Registration, states in part.

Further, MIL, through its lawyer Ms. Magna Advocates, avers: ‘The issue in the current suit is not whether the Plaintiff is the owner of the Freehold/Mailo properties, but whether the 1st Defendant was illegally and fraudulently registered as lessee on the suit properties…’

Earlier, the 1st defendant ’through their lawyers Sebalu & Lule Advocates had contested the MIL plaint, in the process dragging in the Bank of Uganda, arguing that: ‘The transfer and handing over of possession of the 48 leasehold Certificates of Title was effected by BoU under the regulatory and intervention powers granted it by statute specifically Sections 95(1) (b) &(c) of the FIA…’

Last week Meera Investments Limited, through Magna Advocates sought to recover US$8, 660, 462 from DFCU Bank, money the plaintiff said had accrued from rent arrears of two prime properties on Kampala Road after the Bank of Uganda took over management of Crane Bank, in October 2016.

Crane Bank, now in receivership, was a tenant of Meera Investments Limited, and the latter is making rent arrears claim in respect of Plot 38 Kampala Road, covering the Basement, Ground, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 7th floor, and Plot 40 on the same road.

Since the takeover of Crane Back in 2016, businessman Sudhir Ruparelia, one of the shareholders in the CB and the Bank of Uganda have been engaged in a series of court battles, one of which saw the High Court Commercial Division bar city lawyers Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi of Ms. MMAKS Advocates, and David Mpanga of AF Mpanga Advocates from representing BoU.

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.

At the time of the court ruling the BoU had paid out over Shs 6 billion to the two law firms.