The Bank of Uganda (BoU) has withdrawn a Supreme Court appeal against Ugandan billionaire Sudhir Ruparelia and his Meera Investments, bringing to a close one of the fiercest commercial court battles in Uganda’s recent history.
BoU which was contesting the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of Crane Bank Ltd (in Receivership) vs. Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments Ltd, has filed a notice on September 15 notifying the Supreme Court Registrar that BoU has decided not to prosecute the appeal and will pay costs.
Signed by BoU lawyers Messers Byamugisha & Co Advocates, this development could put a smile on the face of Mr Sudhir who lost his Crane Bank out of the impunity of the central bank officials, who have since retired or contracts expired.
Just over a year ago, on June 23, 2020, the Court of Appeal upheld the judgment of the Commercial Court in an application filed by BoU seeking a refund of UGX 397 billion from the billionaire, who has maintained his innocence in mismanaging of his bank, and instead put it on Bank of Uganda senior officials for wanting to steal his property, including Meera properties which BoU had donated to DFCU bank as they sold Crane Bank.
Bank of Uganda took over Crane Bank but in August 2019, Justice David Wangutusi of Commercial Court dismissed the first case in which BoU claimed that Ruparelia and his Meera Investments Ltd had fleeced his own financial institution which at the time was the second biggest bank in Uganda.
On Tuesday, June 30, the BoU had insisted that receivership does not take away the corporate personality of a company which includes the right to trace and recover assets and the right to sue for those assets.
In the preliminary stages of the appeal, the Supreme Court in August this year, dismissed with costs, an application by lawyers representing the Bank of Uganda (BoU) in which they sought to substitute the court record from Crane Bank Ltd (in receivership) to Crane Bank Ltd (in Liquidation), with the court rejecting the move, as in bad faith and intended to circumvent facts.
Governor Mutebile’s legal team has been effectively beaten by Sudhir’s team upto Supreme Court as all the courts rejected their arguments (PHOTO/File).
A panel of the Supreme Court Justices including Ruby Opio-Aweri, Faith Mwondha, Lillian Tibatemwa, Ezekiel Muhanguzi and Night Tuhaise, in a ruling issued on August 12 rejected arguments by BoU lawyers led by veteran attorney Dr. Joseph Byamugisha, reasoning that Crane Bank Ltd (in Receivership), Crane Bank Ltd (in Liquidation), and Crane Bank Ltd are three distinct entities with different rights, powers and obligations.
Earlier in the High Court, Justice Wangutusi noted in his ruling that at the time BoU and Crane Bank (in receivership) filed the suit against Mr Ruparelia and his Meera Investments in January 2017, Crane Bank was a non-existing entity, having been terminated when the Central Bank sold its assets to DFCU Bank in October 2016.
The judge ruled that this rendered Crane Bank in receivership incapable of suing or being sued since there would be no assets to be claimed for.
Court noted that the public notice made it clear that BoU as the receiver had done an evaluation of the respondent (Crane Bank in receivership) and arranged for the purchase of its assets and assumption of its liabilities by another financial institution.“
In his [BoU] notice, he specifically stated that the liabilities of the respondent had been transferred to DFCU Bank Ltd and that because DFCU Bank had taken over the liabilities, it would, by way of consideration, be paid by conveying to it the respondent’s assets,” the judge ruled.Bank of Uganda, through their new attorney Dr. Joseph Byamugisha of Byamugisha & Co Ltd the chose to file an appeal.
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