KAMPALA, Uganda: History is in making regarding payments to lawyers hired by Bank of Uganda for the case against former Crane Bank that is under receivership and Property Mogul and city tycoon, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia.
The real payments (when the case concludes) to the legal experts battling the case may never be known though estimates right now are to the tune of UGX4 billions. This will be the most expensive legal fees in Uganda’s history, at least according to people privy to the cash flow details.
The Investigator has established from insiders at Uganda Revenue Authority that so far BoU has released over Shs400 million as case filing fees. Similarly, documents seen by The Investigator show that the Central Bank has so far coughed US$804.094 (Shs4b) that was paid in two installments to its hired private lawyers at the MMAKS Advocates.
The payments were conducted in December 2016 and May 2017 in respect to Crane Bank, in transactions initiated by Citi Bank in New York, with Barclays Bank PLC in New York as the ‘intermediary institution’ and the BoU as the ‘ordering customer’ referenced as number 099276065.
Sources close to the transactions revealed to us that the first cash totaling US$166,796 (Shs600m) dubbed’ professional fees’ was paid on December 14, 2016, while the second payment of US$804, 098 was sent on May 11, 2017 under Ref. No. 991FOCT171310022 of (Citi Bank) Documents obtained indicated that MMAKS Advocates sought for US$230,000 as ‘professional and pre take over stage fees’.
The Investigator has established that KPMG also wrote to Bank of Uganda requesting that four of its staff (IT Specialists), whom we identified as Raymond Mugo, Moses Kipchirchir, and David Waweru, and one Financial Specialist, Jonah Mwanja, be paid US$800(Shs2.8m) per day for their services. The figure was zeroed down to US$650 (shs2.3m)
Similarly, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, ‘Tax Invoiced’ BoU US$243.000 under invoice number KLA 36200850, in respect to ‘investigative and forensic review services of ‘Project Nyonyi’, the name adopted by BoU and PwC in respect to the Crane Bank post-closure management on December 6th 2016.
Why all this monies for private lawyers?
The battle that has not left the intervention of President Museveni pits city tycoon Sudhir Rupareila. Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebili has come out publicly and stated that Sudhir should return to Crane Bank about US$ 94 million (Shs345 billion) that he allegedly fraudulently took from former Crane Bank and another Shs52 billion in NSSF benefits for expatriate staff that he allegedly failed to remit to the pensions body.
Similarly, Central Bank also wants Sudhir’s company Meera Investments Ltd to hand over the titles of the 48 properties previously occupied by Crane Bank across the country. The properties currently are occupied by DFCU and the presumption is that DFCU has to pay rent to Sudhir’s Meera.
The Investigator has established that Sudhir has paid US$8 million to cover one case in which he allegedly lent himself money from Crane Bank which is not allowed under banking laws. After paying this amount, according to the agreement, BoU was supposed to return some properties to him but didn’t.
What is disturbing Sudhir is that a lawyer, Timothy Kanyerezi Masembe of MMAKS Advocates, and David Mpanga who were once his longtime lawyers, are now on the side of BoU prosecuting him (they have however, since been dropped and indeed, walked away with the crosal sums already paid to them).
Sudhir who says he paid the US$8m to BoU as demanded, has now accused BoU of breach of an agreement. Watch this space…