KAMPALA, Uganda: Bank of Africa management along with their legal teams are grappling with a case where, a riled Judge in town has reprimanded their institution for selling off a customer’s commercial property in a Mafioso manner, the Investigator authoritatively report.
The property, a hostel in Banda known as Holyway’s, belonged to one Mark Ssemaganda and his mother Agnes Lwanga Kuzuukira. Incarcerated city car dealer, Mohamed Ssebuufu bought the property in auction. Ssebuufu will keep the hostel. Justice David Kutosi Wangutusi found the owner of Pine Car outlet in Kampala, a bonafide purchaser for value.
The bank will also pay the businessman some money since it led him on to buy the property, hence the owners of the hostel dragging him to court. Ssebuufu will pocket the cash without breaking a sweat. He did not find it sensible to appear in court much as he was sued and served with summons to file a defense.
The judgment brings to an end – if not appealed, the eight year old legal tussle that was launched by two aggrieved Bank of Africa customers. This court judgment is not only going to dig a hole in the coffers of the financial facility but also bound to affect its trustworthiness, drawing from the dubious manner in which they sold off their customers’ security.
While the financial institution advertised an entirely different property for auction, it ended up selling a completely different one. For clarity, the property that Bank of Africa advertised is located far off in Namwenda, Busoga. The one it actually auctioned is just in the city outskirts of Banda. The two would belong to different people, of course.
Before then, the bank had written a ‘default notice’ to their now proven-fraud victims on which, it forged some funny signature to indicate how it had duly informed the owners of the property about the imminent auction and that they (The victims) had acknowledged receipt of the same.
In a bid to show that the victim had been served with the notice of sale of his property, the bank produced in court a funny document to that effect. But to its shame, the notice of sale bears a sham address of the victim all together.
To cap the fraud off, the bank sold the property at a song. It sold the property at a paltry 400 million Uganda shillings yet it had itself valued it at close to one billion Uganda shillings upon approval of the loan facility, then two years before it was auctioned.
Well, the customers had approached the bank earlier and both agreed that they were going to look for customers jointly. In doing this, the customers wanted to be involved in the sale to make sure that the bank takes from the proceeds of the sale what they owed it and surrender the balance to them.
But much as the bank approved this arrangement, it sourced for the buyer secretly and later sold the security without involving the owners at all as they had mutually agreed.
Court hence observed thus; “a, the suit against the 2nd Defendant (read Ssebuufu) is dismissed with costs paid by the 1st defendant (read Bank of Africa), b, the sale of the Plaintiffs’ property comprised in Block 232 Plot 1074 land in Kireka by the 1st Defendant to the 2nd Defendant is unconscionable and irregular, c, the 1st Defendant has not been fair, reliable and transparent in its dealings with the Plaintiffs as customers of their service contrary to Bank of Uganda Consumer Protection Guidelines 2011.”
Convinced with the above facts, the Judge ruled in favor of, and awarded the Plaintiffs as follows…; “d, the 1st Defendant to pay to the Plaintiffs a sum of UGX915, 528,445 as fair and adequate compensation for deprivation of their right to property, e, 1st Defendant to pay aggravated damages of UGX20, 000,000 to the Plaintiffs, f, 1st Defendant to pay punitive/exemplary damages of UGX80, 000,000 to Plaintiffs…”
In addition, goes the ruling; “g, 1st Defendant to pay general damages of UGX80, 000,000 to the Plaintiffs, h, Interest on ‘d’ at 18% per annum from 31st December 2013 till payment in full, i, interest on ‘e’ ‘f’ and ‘g’ at 6% interest per annum from date of judgment till payment in full and… j, 1st Defendant to pay costs of the suit and counterclaims.”
Our quick calculations have so far settled at UGX3bn plus as it stands at the time of filing this story. The same however keeps jumping considering the ruling date until that time of its full execution. Of whether the Bank has intentions to appeal and/or whether they have any appealable grounds anyway, is a story of another day. Watch this space…
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