KAMPALA, UGANDA: Most of the supposed rich people have debts with financial institutions especially commercial banks with which, they entrust their hard earned properties for business purposes. It is therefore painful when the same institutions connive with the more privileged rich to use such mortgagors’ plight to their advantage, the Investigator reports.
And this seem the stance under which the city Engineer, Peter Kamya lost his Simbamannyo Building to Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia’s Meera Investments Limited, in a mock auction where, money exchanged hands long before the due date of the supposed auction! This is the position, if the evidence deposited with Court by Kamya’s lawyers, is dependable…
Court documents before the Investigator desk indicate how Equity Bank, through their lawyers of Katende Ssempebwa and Co. Advocates, received USD1m from Dr. Sudhir’s, over a week before the due auction time. In an email to Sudhir’s Lawyer, Nelson Walusimbi, on September 25th 2020 at 2:09PM, copied to all stakeholders in the feared foul transaction, Counsel Sim Katende gives the purpose of the dimes as a ‘performance based guarantee.’
“Dear Nelson, I have made some slight edits and tracked the changes and copied all parties. My understanding is that the deposit will be made to our account and the Bank will be the one issuing us with instructions as to how the money should be dispersed because it will have issued your client with a guarantee. Please review and confirm this is the same understanding all round and we can conclude this.” Sim’s email reads.
While the bank advertised in the newspapers announcing the building was to be auctioned on October 8th 2020, its lawyers proceeded to receive an advance payment from Sudhir totaling to USD1M. Sudhir eventually bought the building at five billion shillings in what now Eng. Peter Kamya says was just a song. He says all this happened amidst the course of filing an appeal. Nevertheless, Equity rushed to sell, in order to negate the appeal process which he had set in motion already.
Asked why they took up this uphill task of grappling to recover an already sold property, Counsel Charles Nsubuga of Muwema and Company Advocates said; “Mr. Sudhir paid the money on October 1, 2020, a week before the auction which Equity had duped the public to believe was going to take place on October 8, 2020. Our client believes his property was fraudulently sold.”
In response to Sim’s email, Sudhir’s Counsel Nelson Walusimbi of Walusimbi & Co. Advocates made his counterpart to swear upon the living God that in case the Bank sold the prime property to anyone else minus Sudhir, the entire USD1M had to be refunded in entirety. “My understanding is that Meera Investments Limited (MIL) wishes to have an assurance of a refund of its money in full in the event that the intended transaction does not materialize…” wrote Walusimbi.
After confirming the availability of the deal vide an agreement signed by all parties, with an assurance that Equity would sell the building to him, Sudhir wired the USD1M to the account of the lawyers of the bank, held in the same financial institution, on 1st October 2020, seven days before the official date of auction.
It is important to note that Sudhir knew him and company were unlawfully getting into a deal that could boomerang, and hence the reason he wrote asking for a guarantee that his upfront payment would be refunded in case the property was sold to a different person or entity.
A total of USD700000 out of that money was paid to one Ronald Luwangula who we heavily suspect was acting as a proxy as far as the purchase of Kamya’s other property, Afrique Suites Hotel in Mutungo was concerned. Then part of the balance was paid out as costs for the recovery of Simbamannyo itself, which goes to prove that the bank kick-started the auction process way before the actual date.
After paying for the building, Sudhir fast-tracked the transfer from the names of Simbamannyo Estates Limited into those of Meera Investments limited which intriguingly happened in merely two hours. A caveat was then placed on the building within a space of three minutes after the said transfer that happened on October 8th 2020, the hitherto supposed auction date!
Little wonder then that caveats which the owner, Eng. Kamya had lodged much earlier anticipating the aforementioned foul play, ended up being removed and replaced by caveats lodged by Meera Investments Limited, in a space of minutes. But Kamya has vowed not to take it lying back. He labors to fight on vide a plaint filed with the Commercial Division of the High Court on 2nd August 2021.
Among his prayers before Court, Kamya contends that Equity Bank’s act of selling and disposing of his properties was, in circumstances, a violation of his rights to redeem the mortgages issued under the questioned credit facility of November 2017. He further avows that the USD1M paid by Sudhir to the Bank in a bid to facilitate the impugned sale of his properties before the already challenged auction date, was not only fraudulent but an illegal venture.
Citing that the price of USD5M Sudhir paid for his property was just peanuts compared to the market value currently standing at USD12M, Kamya wants Court to institute an independent survey and evaluation unit to review the same. He also believes that Equity Bank flouted the law via breach of Bank of Uganda Financial Consumer Protection Guidelines 2011, which he contends that had it been applied, the arguably smelly transaction could have faced a stillbirth… Watch this space…
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