The Commissioner Land Registration in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has cancelled the leasehold certificates of title of the 48 properties fraudulently acquired by Dfcu bank as it fraudulently purchased Crane Bank Limited (CBL) assets in January 2017.
Before CBL was taken over in October 2016 by the Bank of Uganda and sold to Dfcu bank, the former lender was operating its business in properties owned by Meera Investments Limited, a sister company of the defunct bank, and both belonging to the Ruparelia Group of Companies whose chairman is Kampala tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia.
The hurried transaction involved the illegal transfer of Meera Investments Limited’s 48 properties to Dfcu bank, which forced the former company to seek legal redress in 2017, and on October 24, 2023, it succeeded, leaving Dfcu bank leaking wounds.
Now the cancellation of the certificates of title in the name of Dfcu bank, means Meera Investments Limited, which had sued the lender and the Commissioner Land Registration, gets back its properties almost seven years after running to court.
However, writing to the Managing Director of Dfcu bank on November 8, 2023, Baker Mugaino, on behalf of the Commissioner Land Registration said: “You will recall that judgment in the above captioned suit (Civil Suit No.949 of 2017) was entered in favour of the plaintiff, Meera Investments Limited against Dfcu bank Limited and the Office of Commissioner Land Registration. Orders were made directing the office to rectify the register in the terms set out in the decree including cancellation of the leasehold certificates of title.”
The letter informing Dfcu bank of the cancellation of certificates of the 48 properties of Meera Investments Limited it had acquired illegally continued: “In view of the self-executing nature of the orders of the Court and in order to avert possible contempt proceedings, this office proceeded and implemented the decree of the court to the extent of the orders and made for its implementation by rectifying the register and cancelling the leases as encumbrances on the mailo and freehold certificates of titled registered in the names of Meera Investments Limited and further by cancelling all the entries on the register and white pages of Dfcu bank Limited as proprietor of the 48 leasehold properties.”
The letter continues: “The purpose hereof is, therefore, to request you that, since the leasehold titles have been canceled thereby by rendering the 48 duplicate certificates of title in your possession legally inconsequential, the same should be returned to this office to avoid any possible misuse therefore. Kindly do so within seven days from the date of receipt of this letter.”
Justice Tadeo Asiimwe in his ruling awarded Shs2.4 billion to Meera Investments Limited in general damages, which carries interest of 8% from the date of judgment. Meera Investments Limited was also awarded the costs of the suit against Dfcu bank and the Commissioner for Land Registration.
Justice Asiimwe of the High Court agreed with the lawyers of Meera Investments Limited that Dfcu bank’s acquisition of the 48 properties was illegal and invalid as done without the consent of Meera Investments Limited.
Upon taking of CBL, Dfcu hurriedly registered the 48 properties in its name, which court also said was illegal. Even if Dfcu bank claims it had vacated the premises, the judge said it must vacate after restoring the facilities to the tenantable position. In otherwise, Dfcu bank must rehabilitate the properties before new tenants can occupy them.