Mbabazi bank joins Shs400bn Sudhir fraud case

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Amama Mbabazi and his Counsel Fred Muwema

The proprietors of the defunct National Chamber of Commerce [NBC] have also joined a case in which Bank of Uganda dragged mogul and Crane bank owner, Sudhir Ruparelia, to court for allegedly embezzling over Shs400bn.

Through their lawyers Muwema and Co. Advocates, Crown Beverages chairman, Amos Nzeyi, and Retired Bishop, William Ruchirande, who are shareholders of NBC have written to the Registrar of High Court in Kampala requesting to obtain a copy of the case file.

Other major shareholders of the bank are; former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi and current Premier, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

“Our clients have learnt the Bank of Uganda which revoked the NBC banking licence and sold its assets to Crane bank on 27th September 2012 is now accusing its proprietors of engaging in serious bank fraud committed before and after the sale of NBC,” Muwema’s letter notes.

Nzeyi and Ruchirande believe that the rush takeover, winding up, liquidation, closure and sale of NBC to Crane bank without following due process of the law, is a continuation of the fraud orchestrated by Crane bank and its proprietor.

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“Our clients also believe that this fraud could not have been committed without the collusion of Bank of Uganda or some elements therein.”

The aggrieved therefore want to study the case and investigate the extent to which Sudhir, crane bank and BoU are culpable for loss and damage caused to NBC and its clients.

Complaining that their lawyers haven’t accessed the case file at the court registry for the past week, the aggrieved want a copy so they can join the suit.

They are challenging the legality of NBC takeover, collusion of Sudhir and BoU, Crane bank capacity to contract or purchase NBC properties and the subsequent revocation of NBC licence which must be restored.

They also suspect that the money stolen from Crane bank by Sudhir could have been part of NBC’s money.

Bank of Uganda took over the management of NBC on September 27, 2012 after which Louis Kasekende, the then Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda, directed its depositors to operate their accounts in Crane Bank Ltd.

Kasekende said NBC was closed because its activities were detrimental to the interests of its depositors.

The closure of NBC came against the backdrop of ownership disputes between the few majority shareholders who owned 86 percent of the bank and 320 other shareholders who owned just 14 percent.

The minority shareholders, who included former Supreme Court Judge, George Kanyeihamba and former minister Jim Muhwezi, contended that the bank’s name was changed from Kigezi Bank of Commerce to National Bank of Commerce without their consent.

But they lost a bid to stop the majority shareholders from selling shares or carrying out any other transactions.

Amos Nzeyi

In July 2011, the Bank of Uganda approved the purchase of 49 percent of the NBC shares by an Abu Dhabi investment company, the Emirates Link.

In 2008, two of NBC’s biggest shareholders, Mbabazi and Nzeyi, were embroiled in a saga in which they sold their land in Temangalo near Kampala at 11 billion shillings to National Social Security Fund to recapitalise the bank.

Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, who is also a shareholder in the bank, declared that all 25 commercial banks in Uganda were on a sound footing.

The NBC was formed in 1991. In 2009 it was the 22nd biggest bank out of 23 then with an estimated combined asset base of about 50 billion shillings.

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