Sudhir-BOU Mystery: How the Mogul’s Latest Move has left Lawyers Mpanga, Masembe’s Professional Integrity in Tatters

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David Mpanga (L) and Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia
  • Sudhir points out that Masembe has been his business lawyer since 2005 up until October last year when Crane Bank was closed down.
  • He quotes the Advocates Act which bars lawyers from representing adversaries of their former clients in courts of law that Masembe and Mpanga are now apparently breaching.
  • Much as Masembe and Mpanga are on record for previously defending Sudhir against accusation that he solely owned Crane Bank, the two have since changed goal posts to say he was actually the lone owner of the ill-fated financial institution!

KAMPALA, Uganda: The hitherto highly regarded lawyers in town are in the eye of the storm after one of their former top clients sent a dossier to court detailing how they have since turned against him and even sold his secrets to his adversaries for financial consideration.

For starters, Timothy Kanyerezi Masembe is one of the managing partners in the top-notch firm of Masembe, Makubuya, Adriko, Karugaba and Ssekatawa company advocates abridged as MMAKS. Whilst David Mpanga is the managing partner in the A.F. Mpanga and Company advocates law firm, also known as Bowmans.

The duo is said to have had a long and flourishing relationship with tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia previously. But this changed after Sudhir’s bank (Crane Bank) got into alleged financial problems and was accordingly shut down by Bank of Uganda (BOU), also known as the Central Bank.

The former legal brains and confidants of Sudhir have since the collapse of Crane Bank switched sides and sued him on behalf of the Central Bank for allegedly running down his own bank.

But Sudhir is not letting the apparent treachery on part of his lawyers go unhindered. To this end, he filed a lengthy sworn statement with the commercial court on Wednesday detailing all the dealings he had with the two lawyers in the past, before they jumped ship to prosecute him on behalf of BOU for allegedly causing the collapse of CB by ‘fraudulently’ depriving it of Ugx400Bn.

Masembe (L) and Mpanga (R) had asserted in Sudhir’s (C) favor in the case that was filed by the owners of the defunct National Bank of Commerce (NBC) alleging that the tycoon, as well as Crane Bank (BG) illegally took possession of their bank. The lawyers have since, upon jumping ship to BOU side, changed the story to assert the exact opposite of their earlier word. They now say Sudhir was the lone owner of Crane Bank!

He wants the head of the Commercial Court David Wangutusi chosen to preside over the case between him and the central bank, to order Masembe and Mpanga out of the case on the basis of conflict of interest. They once acted for him during which they amassed a lot of information about him and his Bank. Indeed, BOU is now using such secrets spilled by Sudhir’s former lawyers as its evidence in its case against the tycoon.

He quotes the Advocates Act which bars lawyers from representing adversaries of their former clients in courts of law that Masembe and Mpanga are now apparently breaching. Reading between the lines, the statement would imply that if there was any fraud committed against Crane Bank, Mpanga and Masembe are part and parcel of the same since they were the chief legal advisers of their clients.

By way of illustration, Sudhir points out that Masembe has been his business lawyer since 2005 up until October last year when Crane Bank was closed down. He says that by virtue of this relationship, Masembe has been able to get privy to top secrets which he has since passed on to the central bank on account of being their lawyer in the case against him.

Even then much of the information provided by the two lawyers seems to be contradictory at best and false at worst. For instance, much as Masembe and Mpanga are on record for previously defending Sudhir against accusation that he solely owned Crane Bank, the two have since changed goal posts to say he was actually the lone owner of the ill-fated financial institution!

The duo had asserted in Sudhir’s favor in the case that was filed by the owners of the defunct National Bank of Commerce (NBC) alleging that the tycoon, as well as Crane Bank illegally took possession of their bank. The lawyers have since, upon jumping ship to BOU side, changed the story to assert the exact opposite of their earlier word. They now say Sudhir was the lone owner of Crane Bank!

This is why Sudhir demands that the duo, who once acted for him as lawyers be summoned by court to dispel their own assertion, by stating the truth that he only sat on the Board of Directors of Crane Bank and that he did not run it on a day-to-day basis as they avow now.

There is also the example of the firm known as Infinity. This one is believed to have taken billions in loans from Crane Bank in the years of 2010, 2011 and 2014. The central bank claims such loans’ acquisition was backed up by Sudhir ‘because he owned’ the firm. The two layers also support BOU’s point of view. Ironically, it was Masembe himself who prepared all the necessary paperwork regarding these loans in his capacity as the Crane Bank lawyer.

This is without mentioning the fact that it was also the lawyer above who carried out the due diligence on the firm confirming its suitability to be advanced the loan facilities. Needless to state that it was on basis of such legal advice by Masembe that the Bank parted with the dimes in question. But the same lawyer now stammers to the contrary!

Masembe goes on to allege how both Crane Bank and Sudhir never ever took efforts to recover the loans above. He even suggests that Infinity was spared the bother of paying back ‘because’ its imaginary owner decreed as such.

Sudhir quotes the Advocates Act which bars lawyers from representing adversaries of their former clients in courts of law that Masembe (R) and Mpanga (L) are now apparently breaching.

By stating as above, the lawyer conveniently forgets that Crane Bank instructed him as their lawyer to recover the outstanding sums, and that he carried out the instructions by writing to the owner of Infinity, one Bharwani Mahmud over the matter.

Available court documents indicate Masembe wrote the letters on February 6th 2016, September 21st 2016 and October 16th 2016. And what’s more? He even took steps to attach securities which the firm deposited with Crane Bank before being cleared for the loan facilities. This he did by advertising such securities for interested bidders to buy them off.

Independently, the central bank has since entered into a separate agreement with Sudhir’s proxy in Bharwani via which he acknowledges being the owner of Infinity and undertakes to clear the loans in question. This, may be, would help to clear the air regarding the true ownership of Infinity.

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  • Katondwaki Sejjusa Darius

    “A good muganda is a dead one”

    • Diana Namubiru Mwesigye

      A person of your calibre deserves to dwell with the likes of Obote and Rwakafuzi, wherever they may be. I will school you on fact not fiction, Law firms are partnerships between similar brains not tribe and that is why in MMAKS, the partners include Masembe, Makubuya, Adriko, Karugaba and Ssekatawa, whatever tribe or tribes they each belong to is beside the point, these are learned friends who read, discussed and agreed on whatever decision they undertook as Crane Bank’s legal team. It was nothing to do with whether Masembe Kanyerezi, Karugaba or Adriko are Baganda or not. The fact that they have switched sides is a discussion for another day. I do not want to overload you. Good luck. Please go back to school.

  • Yekoz

    If all this is accurate, which law schools did these ‘prominent’ lawyers go to?