- Is Fred Muwema a Crook? We don’t believe so, but the Mafia World Gurus Religiously do, simply because he keeps defecating in their Money Laundering Trade. The untold big Story…
KAMAPALA, Uganda: The Ugandan central bank has made its view known about the verdict which saw South African credit providers losing the thirty million United States dollars’ legal battle to businessman Patrick Bitature. The country`s regulator of financial institutions says people who borrow from foreign debt providers and default, dents the country’s foreign profile. The central bank states this in response to the ongoing legal conundrum between Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Paternership and Bitature.
Justice Musa Ssekaana set the conundrum into motion. This is when he declined a request by Vantage to transfer and sell off Bitature’s multi-billion real estates. Vantage had asked Ssekaana to review a ruling by the Uganda’s Registrar of businesses who had also declined a similar request. The judge said since Vantage hadn’t registered their 2014 loan dealings and Bitature with the registrar of businesses, as per the applicable law, the same invalidated those transactions.
The ruling essentially meant that Bitature is under no legal obligation to clear the loans now in the region of thirty million United States dollars up from ten million United States dollars. Vantage via their lawyers, appealed the ruling. But, the lenders subsequent to the ruling, and against their own appeal, threatened, any way, to go ahead with the auction. The threats were in response to Bitature’s own threats to drag them to court together with their lawyers and the court bailiffs, for contempt of Ssekaana’s ruling which stopped any debt recovery measures.
For the record, much as the central bank is fully entitled to it’s opinions regarding these matters, Uganda as a country, is one of the internationally renowned big loan defaulters on planet Earth. So much that the creditors have at several intervals gone ahead to write off those debts following the central bank’s own failure to settle them. Yet Kampala continues to borrow todate and default as well, with reckless abandon.
It should be emphasized and noted that these matters are still a subject of an appeal. This appeal was lodged by Vantage. The same matters are still being handled by an arbitration court in London. Bitature himself has gone on record to state that he isn’t about to escape from liability just that he wants things to be done as per the law. That is it with the central bank’s take on this matter.
The story: Unmasking the Scapegoat in Muwema as True Culprits of MAKKS Whistle away…
Let us now explore the crux of this conversation which is money laundering in relation to the law. We are also going to discuss the very risky role being undertaken by city lawyer, Fred Muwema in fighting money launderers and the banks. Muwema, over a fortnight ago pulled off the enviable court victory. And as everyone is expected to know by now, the triumph was in favor of Bitature.
Bitature had been for years facing the terrible nightmare of losing very high value properties. It’s amid such intimidating uncertainty that Muwema fired off one silver bullet out of his legal gun. It’s that legal bullet which alerted Justice Ssekaana about the ‘invalidality’ of Vantage’s debt. The judge subsequently declared the loan transaction invalid.
As we have qouted Ssekaana at the beginning, the law required Vantage to reveal their dealings in Uganda to the relevant authorities. Since Vantage didn’t do so, the judge ruled, whatsoever they did with Bitature was rendered inconsequential by that breach. But as Muwema and Bitature were gearing up to pop champagne, all hell broke loose. Social media users went into overdrive delivering own verdicts. The same were not only derogatory, but also sarcastic.
Bitature was labeled a crook. He was viciously attacked for ‘hiding’ under the law to ‘avoid’ liability. The Simba group chairman, was even advised to ignore the ruling and go ahead and pay the debts. Muwema was labeled a crook too. His blunder? Alerting court about the ‘illegalities’ inherent in the loan transactions.
The real troublecauser
For the record, Muwema didn’t participate in these loan transactions at the time of their negotiations abs sealing. The man with the grey patch in his fore hair, was only called upon to clean the legal mess which he hadn’t created in the first place. Another eminent law firm of Masembe, Makubuya, Adriko, Karugaba and Ssekatawa, abridged as MMAKS, are the ones responsible for creating the legal mess which has, unfortunately, sucked in everyone.
Let`s repeat for emphasis sake, when it comes to who failed to do their professional duties in regards to these transactions, the buck would start and stop at the chambers of MMAKS located at Diamond Trust facility. The highly regarded commercial lawyers failed, or neglected to advise their clients, at the time they were transacting this businesses, to strictly follow the applicable law.
This is how their clients ended up blindly, ignorantly and blissfully, riding off along with MMAKS, into the deepest blue sea waters! Yet, now that the clients are evidently caught up between the rock and hard surface, the captains of the ship (MMAKS) are, on the other hand, sitting there as silent as the tomb itself! They have left the precarious job of balancing what originally remains of their own ship wreckage, to Muwema and Robert Kirunda to fix. What a classic replay of `Betrayal at High Noon` and `Jesus and Iscariot’s` conundrum!
Not a one-off
Let us point out this fact because it’s very crucial inhere. This is not the first time for the lawyers of MMAKS to blunder nor cause huge problems to their clients. The same lawyers acted for Diamond Trust Bank in the precedent-setting Hamis Segawa Kiggundu and Diamond Trust Bank(DTB) case. Ham floored DTB. He did so merely because, DTB Uganda breached the loan agreement. It had secretly arranged with DTB Kenya to issue out the loans. This was done outside the clear terms of the contract.
Very true, Ham took the money. He even used the cash. He enjoyed it. Yes, thank you. But Ham had not a contract with DTB Kenya, to give him the debts. Two, DTB Kenya isn’t licensed to operate in Uganda, nor did it seek for permission from Bank of Uganda, to lend to Ham. So, Justice Henry Adonyo declared the transactions invalid. Just like that he did and, oh yes, rightly so by law.
As we write, there are at least to more foreign banks, we know of, waiting to lose huge sums of money. They did what DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya conspired to do in the case of Ham. So, we know, barring a miracle of Jesuit proportions, those banks are some day, going to meet the consequences of their illegal dealings.
Muwema was involved in the case of Vantage and Bitature. He also, was actively engaged in the case of DTB and Ham. The same lawyer is involved in the other two cases where banks are slated to lose huge sums of cash. Moving money into the country outside the law, is certainly illegal. They call it money laundering.
Money laundering is a lucrative business. For starters, that money is rarely detected by regulators. The owners secretly smuggle such funds into the economy, trade with it and then, strategically take it out plus all the profitsgenerated and, the vicious cycle continues. The operators of this illegal business do their thing without remitting the necessary taxes to their chosen economy. This is why the business is very, very attractive and very, very lucrative. Such is the sophistication of this illegal trade that Africa being Africa, lack the means to efficiently rout this crime.
So, banks, especially the foreign ones, get it easy dealing in this kind of tax-free business under such inefficient law enforcement environment. Yet here is Muwema busily ‘messing up’ with the lucrative but illegal trade. Those fat cats who live off money laundering aren’t amused at all. Muwema thinks it his legal duty to fight the money launderers. So, he thinks, he must take them by the horns and throw them away. Yes, he might have made a `name` out of it but at a heavy price to his person.
Well, the beneficiaries of the illegal but very lucrative trade aren’t going to fold hands and look on as Muwema continues to mess up with them. They loathe being bothered with the dictates of the law. That Muwema wants them to play by the rules of the game, these people are going to loathe him the more. For that matter, they are ready and willing to play hard ball. They have started already. The game is on already, but Muwema must stand up and be counted.
This is why in the wake of Justice Adonyo’s ruling in the DTB case, there was a lot of pandemonium, hulaballo and fuss. By ruling as he did, the bold judge was clearly ‘messing up’ with the lucrative job and it’s partakers. So, all sorts of social media arsenal had to be brought out to intimidate courts into backing off the illegal trade. Interesting, thanks to the mafia world tactics, even the social media campaign drivers against Muwema aren`t aware who is driving `their ideologies. `
The financial institutions and their legal guardians, other than taking careful consideration of Adonyo’s ruling, and henceforth play safe, so as to sidestep what had befallen DTB, turned belligerent. They instead threw violent tantrums about how the courts of law were conspiring with borrowers to render their jobs and business too risky.
Big commercial law firms in town such as Shonubi, Musoke and company Advocates wrote articles alleging how, by doing their duties, the judges in Uganda had sent shockwaves into the banking sector. This, as if sending murderers to the gallows can also be equated to sending shockwaves into the murderers’ circles!Foreign media outlets on behalf of foreign banks of course, operating in Uganda and Africa, notably Reuterstoo, wrote extensively about the ruling, terming it as very bad news for the debt providers.
The central bank itself, instead of counseling the sector actors to play by the rules and regulations set by it, sadly, joined the mafia sponsored lamentation song of the financial institutions. The central bank, dancing to the Uganda Bankers Association’s tunes, said their members would be forced to avoid borrowers which would plunge businesses and the entire economy into the sewers. Talk of holding at ransom, courts, regulators and the country at large,!
But such a sorry posture from the regulator of financial institutions, moreover, as if following the rules and regulations of the game, has ever been a nasty thing to do in any setting! If we may ask, what are rules and regulations for? If the regulators and enforcers, can’t enforce them! Good-for-nothings? In case they are, then we do well laying them there in the pig styies for them to be trampled upon! That’s what good-for-nothing things are for… to be trampled upon to nothing.
Granted, banks and other debt providers, help to lend to businesses and, by extension, assist to grow the economy. But having said this, since when did lending by itself turned into a license of breaking the law! Lest we digress, permit us to revert to MMAKS law firm. They acted for Bank of Uganda in the case of Sudhir Ruparelia and Crane Bank. Years back, the same lawyers had been hired by Sudhir himself.
Sudhir retained them to carry out diligence on business entities before Crane Bank could lend to them huge sums of money. One among such entity was Infinity. The lawyers gave to this one a clean bill of health. Subsequent to that advice, Crane Bank parted with billions in loans for its benefit. Do you know what? Infinity was an absolute ghost! Private auditors hired by Bank of Uganda found this out.
That wasn’t all. The auditors failed to find any of the collaterals which the ghost pledged to the ill-fated bank. That means the billions of debts were issued without any collateral to cover them in case of default. But this writer`s boy in the P4 class keeps clarifying to him, “that was free money”. Yet MMAKS had carried out a search and confirmed Infinity’s existence and that of the collaterals! Ultimately, the mastermind of the foolery ended up looting Crane Bank of billions of cash in loans.
The auditors were retained by the central bank ahead of Crane Bank over insolvency issues. And yet, when Bank of Uganda sued Sudhir, the same lawyers crossed over and led the lawyers accusing Sudhir of what they had advised him on! In the end, Bank of Uganda lost the case. Plus the money paid to the conflicted lawyers. And the client is legally bound to spend more billions of taxpayer’s money to settle Sudhir’s legal costs. But we ere in court when Justice David Wangutusi advised the lawyers to settle these matters to save the country loss of huge sums of money. The lawyers refused and here the taxpayer is now, stuck with huge sums in legal costs.
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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