KAMPALA, Uganda: Yesterday, we reported how Custom officials 30 years ago at Entebbe International Airport, intercepted a parcel containing forex worth UGX194M belonging to the now Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal to Uganda, Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia.
Today, we come with updates on the same where, Sudhir was ably identified as the owner and arrested before Bank of Uganda closed his Crane Forex Bureau located on Plot 20, Kampala Road. That his defunct Crane Bank was closed and operational license canceled, was not a new thing to Sudhir, for the same happened to his Crane Forex Bureau 30 years ago over fraud.
Authored by Yunusu Abbey, today’s follow-up story is extracted from The New Vision of Friday November 15th 1991 under the headline; ‘Crane Forex Bureau chief under arrest.’ Sudhir’s unbecoming character did not only led to his arrest but also, to the Central Bank tightening the grip on the regulations governing forex. Below is the unedited story as reported three decades ago.
The owner of Crane Forex Bureau in Kampala Mr. Sudhir Ruparelia has been arrested and his Bureau’s operation license cancelled because of the alleged malpractices. Mr. Sudhir was arrested late on Tuesday and is being held at Kampala Central Police Station (CPS). His Bureau situated on Plot 20 Kampala Road was closed yesterday.
By late evening yesterday, charges against Sudhir had not yet been established. A press statement issued by Bank of Uganda last evening said the license of Crane Forex Bureau had been revoked as a result of a number of malpractices which came to light recently. But the statement did not elaborate on the malpractices which were discovered in the Bureau’s operations.
[Bank of Uganda statement] only assured the public that the forex bureaus will continue to operate in the country and urged everyone to transact business with Bureaus which have valid licenses in accordance with the provisions of the forex exchange (forex bureau) order of 1991.
In light of the alleged malpractices, the Central Bank has asked the public to ensure forex bureaus issue for every sale or purchase of the foreign currency EXSR, EXER, EXPR/TC or FXER/TC, “as the case may be prescribed in the second schedule,” said the statement.
Each forex bureau shall quote its forex exchange buying and selling rate which shall be prominently displayed in the premises of the forex bureau. Every Bureau will also have to display on its premises a notice informing its customers as they are entitled to be issued with a receipt for any purchase or sale of the foreign currency they have made.
The statement further said that the forex bureau shall in its transactions only engage in spot transactions and in particular, no officer or staff member of such a forex bureau shall be allowed to deposit or accept Uganda Shillings with intent to obtain or supply the foreign currency equivalent to, either wholly or in part, at a further date, deposit or accept the foreign currency with the intent of supplying local currency equivalent of it either wholly or in part at a future date.”
The New Vision story goes on to reproduce in full, the Central Bank statement with stringent measures guiding forex bureau business in the country. These are stories, via dishing out money to Ugandan journalists and media hoses, Sudhir wouldn’t want in the public arena. The information about him on Wikipedia too, doesn’t capture Sudhir’s dark closet that we are introducing in these series. Below is what Sudhir and, or his handlers fed the internet about his past and lineage. We however take some of them with a tweak of salt…
Sudhir according to Wikipedia
Born on 17th January 1956, Sudhir Ruparelia is an investor of Indian origin. He is the chairman and majority shareholder in the companies of the Ruparelia Group. His investments are mainly in the areas of banking, insurance, education, broadcasting, real estate, floriculture, hotels, and resorts.
According to Forbes, in 2019, Ruparelia was ‘the wealthiest individual’ in Uganda, with an estimated net worth of US$1.2 billion. On 20 October 2016, the Bank of Uganda, which regulates all banks in Uganda, took control of Crane Bank, the largest subsidiary of the Ruparelia Group, due to a significant decline in capital and potential run on the bank.
Ruparelia was born in Kabatoro, Kaseese District in the Western Region of Uganda to an [Indian Dalit] Gujarati family. His great-grandfather reached Mombasa, Kenya in 1897 from India and set up a trading store there before coming to Uganda in 1903. His grandfather was born in Uganda in 1908 and his father in 1932.
Ruparelia has two sisters and one brother. He attended Bat Valley Primary School in Kampala, from P1 to P6, then Jinja Main Street Primary School in Jinja for P7 and Jinja Secondary School. In 1971, he joined Kololo Senior Secondary School. Ruparelia fled to the United Kingdom with his parents in 1972 at the age of 16, when the dictator
Ruparelia returned to Uganda in 1985, [allegedly] with USD25, 000 earned from several casual jobs including working in supermarkets, factories, and butcheries. Ruparelia started selling beer and spirits imported from Kenya. In 1989, beer importation was banned to encourage local brewing of alcohol and he realized he could not make beer.
But since his customers, who were mainly foreigners, paid him in foreign currency, he started Crane Forex Bureau. With his profits, Ruparelia ventured into other businesses, including forming Crane Bank in 1995. Later, he organized his businesses under the umbrella of the Ruparelia Group. In 2007, Ruparelia was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in business, by the Uganda Pentecostal University, in recognition of his contribution to Uganda’s economic growth.
Coming up nest: How Sudhir imported bribes and corruption into Country Uganda… Watch this space
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