ONE OF THE PROPERTIES TAKEN OVER BY DFCU: Former Crane Bank Ntinda branch which DFCU took over and rebranded in its name

By Our Reporter

On January 15, 2019, the Commercial Court ordered DFCU Bank to pay Mr. Shakil Pathan Ismail, a former employee of Crane Bank Limited (CLB) Shs62 million which he said was unlawfully blocked/deducted from his salary account after DFCU Bank took over CBL in January 25, 2017.

Justice David Wangutusi who delivered the ruling also awarded Mr. Shakil general damages worth Shs20 million. The special damages also come with 21 percent interest per annum from April 2016 on till payment is made in full. The judge also ruled that the bank pays a further 6 percent interest on damages from the date of judgement till the amount is fully paid. The ruling was the latest of blows to DFCU Bank’s reputation and image since the ruling taught the bank that it could not reap what it never sowed.

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What was also key in the ruling was the quashing of MMKAS Advovocates’ request to bring in former CBL as second defendant CBL before its closure was part of Ruparelia Group. MMKAS Advocates who served CBL in the past were counsel to DCFU Bank in this case and were represented by Counsel Timothy Lugayizi.

Justice Wangutusi ruled that MMAKS Advocates had once served CBL and now could not be allowed to turn against the same bank (CBL) as ruled in; Bank of Uganda Vs Crane Bank Civil Suit No.493 of 2017.

“It did not matter whether the firm had many lawyers and the one now assigned with the new matter (Timothy Lugayizi) did not personally handle the complainant’s case. Conflict would still be imputed from the “Canteen factor”, he said.

“Canteen factor is this case included social chat between colleagues or with client that gave vital information so if the interaction is between one of the partners it will be imputed to the others,” Justice Wangutusi explained.

About two cases involving the Ruparelia Group are in court pending a hearing. But law firms representing the other sides have been told they cannot now argue in court against companies owned by Ruparelia Group due to conflict of interest, having worked for them.

For instance in the case where the Bank of Uganda (BoU) Ruparelia and his Meera Investments Company mid last year, for allegedly fleecing CBL of Shs397 billion in fraudulent transactions and transfers, Sudhir successfully asked court to first dismiss to AF Mpanga Advocates and MMAKS Advocates for conflict of interest, the two law firms having worked for Ruparelia Group. That meant that BoU had to look for new lawyers which was an additional cost.

Recently court also quashed Sebalu & Lule Advocates from representing BoU due to conflict of interest, the law firm having represented DFCU Bank which took over CBL. Sebalu & Lule Advocates also represented Meera Investments also part of Ruparelia Group in a case to recover Crane Bank’s branch network comprising 48 leasehold land titles was accordingly transferred to DFCU Bank. Meera is seeking an order directing the Commissioner for Land Registration to cancel the leasehold titles in respect of the contested properties and reinstate it as the rightful owner.

The three case scenarios above illustrate how filth some of the Kampala lawyers/law firms can be. It appears the lawyers are keen on cheating clients of billions of money well knowing that court will at a certain stage ask them to get out of the case. And that is what MMAKS Advocates, AF Mpanga Advocates and Sebalu & Lule Advocates have done. They have done it to BoU and DFCU Bank. Unfortunately BoU has spent taxpayers’ money on these lawyers in case against Ruparelia Group companies.

The maneuver by the above lawyers in the cases involving BoU, DFCU Bank, CBL and Ruparelia Group is likely to leave Sudhir Ruparelia on an upper hand. It’s only a matter of time.

Properties claimed by Sudhir

Plot 7 Rujumbura Block, Rukungiri
Plot 31 Margherita Road, Kasese
Plot 33 Margherita Road, Kasese
Plot 105 Customs Road, Busia
Plot 99 Customs Road, Busia
Plot 1162 Block 5, Mulago, Kampala
Plot 688, Nkumba
Plot 893 land at Nkumba
Plot 22, Kampala Road, Entebbe
Plot 106, Kireka and Banda
Plot 60, Nabingo
Plot 61, Nabingo
Plot 846, Block 652, Luwero
Plot 2A Broadway Road, Masaka
Plot 18, Jinja Rd, Gulu and Nasuuti, Mukono
Plot 20A Jinja Rd, Gulu and Nasuuti Mukono.
Plot 103 Customs Road, Busia.
Plot 101 Customs Road, Busia.
Plot 1B, Ntinda, Kampala.
Plot 93 Mengo, Kampala.
Plot 40 Lubas Road, Jinja.
Plot 80 & 82 Main Street, Iganga
Plot 2 Tanga Road, Malaba
Plot 4 Tanga Road, Malaba
Plot 4 Kennedy Square, Soroti
Plot 40, Main Street, Hoima
Plots 44 & 46 Kamwenge & Ibanda
Plot 143 Kabale Road,
Plot 145 Kabale Road,
Plot 5 Block 76, Kabula, Masaka
Plot 55 Main Street Jinja,
Plot 18 Old Kabale Road, Ntungamo
Plot 54, Rushere Nyabushozi.
Plot 52 Rushere, Nyabushozi
Plot 1, Adumi Road, Arua
Plot 51, High Street Mbarara,
Plot 38, Soroti Central ward
Plot 11 Babiiha, Kabarole
Plot 387, Block 18, Natete, Kampala
Plot 388, Block 18, Natete, Kampala
Plot 52, Port Road, Masindi
Plot 1419, Mulago, Kampala
Plot 1463, Kibuga Mulago, Kampala
Plot 817, Block 10, Nakulabye,
Plot 1, Cell 0, Fort Portal Rd, Bushenyi
Plot 7, Luthuli Lane, Bugolobi, Kampala
Plot 54, Masindi Port Road, Masindi
Plot 4360, Kyadondo, Kawempe