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Not giving up: Ham files application to stop impending court judgement in Shs 120b loan case against DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya

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Kampala businessman, Hamis Kiggundu of Ham Enterprises has through his lawyer Muwema filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking to arrest an impending judgement in his Shs120 billion loan case against Diamond Trust Bank and Diamond Trust Bank Kenya.

Early this week, there was drama at the Supreme Court as Kiggundu dashes out of the courtroom protesting against what he termed as unfairness when Lady Justice Elizabeth Musoke who was handling the pre-trial of the case conference informed the two parties that there was no need for court to hear an application earlier filed by Kiggundu.

Lady Justice Musoke said whereas the parties were invited for a pre-trial, it was untenable since the court had heard the case and only awaits judgement that she said would be delivered on Tuesday June, 13, 2023.

This angered Kiggundu who accused the judiciary of being unfair.

Kiggundu’s new application

In his latest application, the businessman says when the appeal was heard by the Supreme Court in November, 2021 and parties directed to file written submissions and judgement set to be delivered on notice, his lawyers realised that DTB had admitted they illegally gave him a loan through his Ham Enterprises and Kiggs International, which made them to file an application seeking orders for judgement on admission by the DTB lawyers.

Kiggundu through his lawyers says that despite several requests to be heard, the court didn’t list the application for hearing until April 28 ,2023 when they were invited for a session of reconstitution of the panel on May 5, 2023.

“Upon receipt of the above invitation, the applicant through his lawyers wrote a letter on May, 2, 2023 requesting for the fixing and hearing of the earlier application but the court advised that the hearing of the said application would be communicated at a later date,” Muwema, Kiggundu’s lawyer said.

Kiggundu avers the court later introduced a new panel to sit in the judgement of the appeal since one of the panelists, Justice, Ruby Apio Aweri had passed on and the new panel consists of the Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo, Justice Faith Mwondha, Justice Percy Tuhaise, Justice Mike Chibita and Justice Stephen Musota.

He claims that it was unfair for both parties to be invited for a pre-hearing last week and Justice Elizabeth Musoke informed them she had orders from the head of the panel(Chief Justice) that the judgement in the case would be ready by June 13 and that his application was neither heard, allowed or dismissed.

He adds: “It is a grave injustice for the Supreme Court which is the highest court in Uganda to permanently lock the applicants out of an opportunity to be heard on such a novel and complex commercial dispute well knowing that is decisions are final, binding and not appealable.”

New evidence!

The businessman also says his team has got new evidence which would be crucial in determination of the case that he says court should allow him file before the judgement is delivered.

“In the meantime, the applicants recently discovered through Edwin Lubanga that the central Bank of Kenya, which supervises the banking industry in Kenya, did not grant the requisite approval under the law to the second respondent-DTB Kenya to enter into the disputed loan transaction which is the subject of this appeal,” Kiggundu says.

He avers that this information was not known by the time of filing and hearing of the appeal in 2021 which he says is very relevant to the substantial question of the illegal conduct of cross border financial institution business by DTB which he says is the subject of the appeal.

“The said information and evidence are not only credible but also capable of having an influence on the decision or result of the appeal.”

Kiggundu says it is only prudent that the new evidence is allowed by the Supreme Court since it is in the interest of justice, fairness and equity.

“There is no inordinate delay in filling this application which is very urgent in light of the impending judgement to be delivered in the appeal.”

Background

The pending judgment in the Supreme court stems from a series of legal proceedings initiated by businessman Kiggundu against DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya. The case originated from a syndicated banking agreement between Kiggundu’s Ham Enterprises Ltd and Kiggs International Ltd, and the two banks.

In October 2020, Commercial Court judge Justice  Henry Peter Adonyo ruled in favour of Kiggundu, ordering DTB Uganda to refund all funds deducted from his accounts. It was alleged that these deductions were made without Kiggundu’s consent. Records presented to the court revealed that Kiggundu had obtained loans totalling over Shs 120b from DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya between 2011 and 2016 to finance his real estate business.

The dispute arose when the banks claimed that Kiggundu had failed to fulfill his loan obligations, amounting to Shs 39 billion, as per the agreed terms. They threatened to seize the mortgaged properties. Kiggundu petitioned the Commercial court, arguing that the withdrawn funds exceeded the outstanding loan amount, as he had already made full repayment.

Kiggundu sought to deafeat  the banks’ defence and obtain an order for the refund of unlawfully obtained funds. Justice Adonyo dismissed the banks’ defence and directed them to refund the money, along with an 8 percent interest rate and the costs of the suit.

Justice Adonyo also ruled that DTB Kenya had transacted an illegal business in Uganda since it does not have a liecence, as stipulated in the Financial Institutions’s Act, 2004.

Not satidified with the ruling of Justice Adonyo, the banks sought relief from Principal Judge, Dr Flavian Zeija, who granted an order to stay the execution of Adonyo’s orders. This prevented Kiggundu from recovering the funds. Subsequently, the banks appealed to the Court of Appeal.

In a subsequent ruling, the Court of Appeal overturned justice Adonyo’s order and ordered a retrial before a different judge. Dissatisfied with this decision, Kiggundu lodged an appeal with the Supreme Court.

The Bank of Uganda, the Ministry of Finance and the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA) claim the loan transaction between Kiggundu and the two sister banks was legal, with BBA claiming that should Kiggundu be helped not to pay the loan, it would affect Uganda in terms of sourcing credit from foreign entities who offer syndicated loans.

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