After putting together a spirited defense against claims by Bank of Uganda that he ‘siphoned’ close to Ugx400Bn from the former Crane Bank (CB), property mogul Sudhir Ruparelia has now turned his guns on businessman Amos Nzeeyi.
After Bank of Uganda (BOU) launched litigation against Sudhir, Nzeyi jumped on the same case as a basis to file his own accusing Sudhir of buying off the defunct National Bank of Commerce (NBC) in a manner he described as fraudulent.
Nzeyi owned NBC together with former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, his successor, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, among other bigwigs hailing from Kigezi region. Bank of Uganda sold off NBC to the now defunct (CB) in September 2012 claiming it (NBC) had run short on the requisite operating capital at the time.
But BOU has since through a case it is filing against Sudhir, who was one of the majority shareholders of Crane Bank, alleged that he (Sudhir) used fraudulent means to acquire NBC, giving the former owners of NBC the supposed locus standi ( legal right) to file a lawsuit challenging the takeover of their bank.
In response, Sudhir has filed his defense suggesting that Nzeyi acted out of ignorance of the law to file the instant case against him. He educates Nzeyi that it’s CB which bought NBC from Bank of Uganda and not him (Sudhir) personally.
By this Sudhir means that just because he was a shareholder as well as a director in CB does not mean that it’s him who bought NBC because under the law him and CB the two are distinguishable.He hastens to add however that, “in any case CB bought the assets of NBC for lawful consideration.”
Apart from the above, Sudhir goes on to educate Nzeyi that he (Sudhir) cannot be sued in his individual capacity because he did not “authorize the execution of the Purchase of Assets and Assumption of Liabilities Agreement (Purchase Agreement) of NBC Assets.”
By this Sudhir means, Nzeyi should have sued BOU alone without involving him in the differences he has with them (BOU) over the transaction he is complaining about.
He adds, but without abandoning the argument above that BOU under the foregoing agreement undertook to cover him as well as CB from and against claims, losses, legal cases, liabilities, demands and obligations which NBC may incur or suffer arising out of or resulting from the assumption of liabilities as defined therein.
Sudhir rejects suggestions by Nzeyi that he did not qualify to be a director or shareholder of a commercial institution. “At all material times I had the legal qualifications for being a director and or a shareholder of Crane Bank,” he asserts.
He adds for purposes of emphasis that BOU which is the legal regulator of financial institutions in Uganda did not at any one time when Crane Bank was in operation ever questioned his directorship or shareholding in that bank.
About allegations first peddled by BOU that he was sole owner of CB which were later espoused by Nzeyi in his subsequent lawsuit, Sudhir reiterates his defense in the BOU case which is that he owned only 28.83% shares in the former bank.
He denies talk by Nzeeyi that BOU injected tens of billions in CB to in a bid to stem its collapse yet it did not do the same in case of NBC. “I deny knowledge of such discrimination. In any event I would not be liable for the said discrimination even if it ever occurred at all,” he adds.
He laughs off demands by Nzeyi that he (Sudhir) must produce the former MD of Crane Bank, A.R. Kalan. He says he is not under any legal obligation to do so.
Nzeeyi claims Kalan disappeared after a series of theft of huge sums of monies from CB and that neither Sudhir nor BOU have ever taken the trouble to hunt for him. But Sudhir elucidates, “ I cannot in law or fact account for his alleged disappearance.”
By and large, Sudhir faults Nzeyi for basing his case on what he calls spurious, misconceived, baseless as well as unmerited allegations of fraud put forward by BOU in an earlier case which he adds are moreover yet to be put to test in court. To this end, Sudhir argues that Nzeyi’s case is too misconceived and must therefore fail.
Nzeyi’s case is to be heard by Justice David Wangutusi who heads the commercial arm of the High Court. He is also in charge of that of BOU against Sudhir and Meera. Nzeyi’s case will have to be allocated a, mediator first to try to have the matter resolved among the litigants themselves in the same way the judiciary appointed a mediator for the case of BOU against Sudhir.