Controversial senior media advisor to President Museveni, Tamale Mirundi has urged Bank of Uganda to ‘eat humble pie and return Crane Bank to tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia’, otherwise the repercussions would be more costly.
During his bareknuckle popular talk show on nbs television on Tuesday, Mirundi also discussed the consequence of Bank of Uganda returning over Shs280 million to Ruparelia, after they illegally closed his four forex bureaus – businesses outside Crane Bank operations – in the aftermath of the liquidation of Crane Bank.
Mirundi says the repayment was a proof that BoU officials wanted to steal from Ruparelia.
This after a Parliament probe found out that Crane Bank was closed down because of malice.
“They should return Crane Bank too,” the former state house spokesman said. “It is the only bank whose owner the clients knew and it was at the heart of Uganda’s growth.”
Mirundi, who usually blames ailments affecting Uganda, to, ‘invisible hands’ that wish President Museveni’s government collapses, added that business is slow in Kampala of recent because many traders and businessmen cannot sit with bankers on a personal level to get loans.
“Businessmen used to find Ruparelia at his Kabira hotel and discuss credit facilities. He knows the challenges of business. He would find them solutions,” Mirundi said.
“Do you know the owner of dfcu or any of those banks? This is why business is hard of recent.”
Mirundi said Crane Bank was victimized because some people had a bone to pick with Ruparelia as a person, or, they wanted the Ugandan economy to collapse, and therefore the government to go with it if people are dissatisfied.
“Crane’s closure has been costly,” he said, referring to the economy, jobs lost, businessmen who have closed shops, and the image of Bank of Uganda, among others.
Since Parliament and the Auditor General made their inquest into the closure of Crane Bank, and found out irregular practice, Bank of Uganda was left with few options, including withdrawing its case from the commercial court where they sued Ruparelia for running down his bank. Bank of Uganda later gave away the bank to dfcu bank which proved a good deal in the first two years but has turned detrimental in the last financial year where the bank’s profitability has declined significantly.
Mirundi said since the closure of Crane bank by Bank of Uganda was illegal as stated by the report released by the parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) in February 2019, it is foolhardy to think BoU can continue playing hide and seek with Ruparelia.
Starting with forex bureaus, BoU should follow the move by either paying back Ruparelia’s bank worth or, allow him reclaim his bank, which would entirely rest on the Ruparelia Group chairman.
Asked if Crane Bank would return and successfully operate, Mirundi asked, “why not? Let me bring it and see.” He said, adding, “I have predicted many things that have come true.”
A Parliament report indicated that an analysis of the bank’s liquidity from January 1-24, 2017, revealed that Crane Bank had recovered from liquidity distress from mid-January 2017 to the time it was disposed on January 25, 2017.
Crane Bank was closed by Bank of Uganda on October 20, 2016, after it failed to comply with a capital call on July 1, 2016.
BoU governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile said then that the bank’s takeover was guided by the systemic nature of its under-capitalisation to avoid financial sector instability.