- Sudhir responded by arguing how he couldn’t do what Muwema was asking him to do. The businessman stated that he wasn’t Kalan’s guardian angel. That Kalan was old enough to take care of himself and his whereabouts.
The final supreme Court ruling finally directed Bank of Uganda to return the carcass of Crane Bank to the owner Sudhir Ruparelia. We are of this view since Crane Bank can’t reopen and transact business as it used to, Bank of Uganda having stripped it of an operating license previously, on account of having been terribly run down. That said and done, we now try to investigate who possibly killed the once yearly `Bank of the Year` award winner and why.
Crane Bank’s own MD A.R. Kalan.
In the days leading to Crane Bank’s stipulated working capital problems, the country woke up to Kalan’s shocking disappearance. Kalan’s was more of a disappearing stunt than a planned one. For, there had been no signs at all before, to suggest that Kalan was about to disappear because of anything.
Until the day of his disappearance, the top banker had remained around and about Kampala Road-premised Crane Bank and the city, whilst executing his duties. The above would presuppose therefore, that everything was ok with Kalan and that he wasn’t, until that act, about to flee Uganda in fear of anything.
Yet he disappeared all the same, leaving behind tongues wagging. Curiously, the man has never reemerged anywhere in this fairer republic ever since that disappearance act. For the record, Counsel Fred Muwema, of Muwema & Co. Advocates, following Kalan’s intriguing evaporation, moved to court and asked that Sudhir Ruparelia, his top employer, be tasked to produce him.
Sudhir responded by arguing how he couldn’t do what Muwema was asking him to do. The businessman stated that he wasn’t Kalan’s guardian angel. That Kalan was old enough to take care of himself and his whereabouts. Muwema had hoped to cross-examine Kalan about Crane Bank’s dubious purchase of the defunct National Bank of Commerce (NBC).
Muwema was a lawyer for former Prime Ministers, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, and Ndugu Ruhakana Rugunda who, had sued Crane Bank over the controversial takeover of NBC. Moving on, in the wake of Kalan’s such vanishing act, curious news sprung up. The strange news had it that Kalan had disappeared with about UGX40Bn, belonging to his employer, Crane Bank Limited.
Shortly thereafter, news about Crane Bank’s depleted financial health also started leaking onto the streets. Yet statements had been before then issued, handing Crane Bank the prize of the bank of the year, and for this matter, year after year, for several years. When the UGX40Bn sleaze had proved to be a lot harder to sell to the public, another story came up.
The story now had it that Kalan had left the job with full knowledge of his employer. He had gone away to attend to his sickly mum, so we were told. Crane Bank itself issued the above info. The same bank management dismissed fears of Kalan having disappeared with the money he was being accused of fleeing with. The bank management also assured the world that the financial institution was safe and sound, financial-wise.
Not so long after Kalan’s disappearance, Bank of Uganda stepped out and announced how Crane Bank was factually tethering towards the grave. That the bank was operating in near red. So, what was going on? The bank’s management had just told all and sundry how Kalan had not gone away with any cent belonging to Crane Bank, nor that the bank itself was experiencing any kind of financial shortfall.
The country waited to see what was going on. As we were still trying to make out what was going on, news emerged of how the bank’s owners, led by Sudhir Ruparelia himself, were begging for rescue funds from Bank of Uganda. But this posture, for a bank that we had been assured, was as solid as rock. Bank of Uganda (BOU) intervened, anyway.
Yet the rescue funds in favor of Crane Bank, somehow ended up again being scammed off by some crafty guys! Lost for what to do, Bank of Uganda moved in. They took over management of the now seriously ailing Crane and bedridden bank. Try as they could, but the regulator ended up failing to save the financial institution. A lot of damage had been wrought on the bank already, to rescue it. By who and how? This is what we attempt to unearth via our zoom into Country Uganda`s banking sector. To be continued
- 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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