KAMPALA: The Bank of Uganda (BoU) has controversially extended the duration of Dfcu bank’s possession of freehold properties of Meera Investments Limited for extra 24 months after the first 34 months elapsed, having transferred Crane Bank Limited (CBL) to Dfcu on January 25, 2017 on account of undercapitalisation.
CBL was renting the properties that were wrongfully transferred to Dfcu Bank.
The deal to extend Dfcu bank’s free hold on Meera Investments’ properties was recently reached at between the BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, Deputy Governor Dr Louis Kasekende and director of Legal department Margaret Kasule on one side and Dfcu bosses on the other side.
The officials penned that deal well-knowing that there is a case in court where Meera Investments which is part of the Ruparelia Group, wants Dfcu bank to return its properties but also pay rent on some of the properties specifically former branches of CBL.
The sides should have waited for court to hear the case before going on with the extension after all court sits early July to hear the case.
The rushed deal to extend the contract for 24 more months could have been calculated to financially benefit the individuals involved especially on the BoU side like Governor Mutebile and his deputy Kasekende as some of the officials are to retire soon or government has no interest reappointing them to those posts. And the rush to sign the deal could have meant to seal a deal ahead of retirement.
In the pending Meera Investments contends that the Commissioner land registration connived with Dfcu bank to transfer the leases of the 46 properties into the latter’s names without the written prior consent of the bonafide owner of the property, which meant the deal was null and void.
Meera Investments wants court to declare that the continued presence of Dfcu bank on its properties, amounts to trespass and that they should be ordered to vacate with immediate effect but now BoU has again extended the deal to have Dfcu bank occupy the branches. Meera Investment contends that it’s the rightful owner of the 46 branches formerly trading as Crane Bank and for that matter dfcu must pay rent arrears estimated to be US $8.6 million
Meera Investments also wants court to direct the commissioner of land registration to immediately cancel out Dfcu bank as being the right full owner of the said 46 properties and reinstate them as the rightful owners.
The central bank in October 2016 closed Crane Bank Ltd before controversially transferring it to Dfcu Bank in January 2017 for a paltry Shs200 billion. The central bank has since come under the spotlight after the closure Crane Bank Ltd backfired with both Parliament and the Auditor General faulting the BoU officials in the middle of the transaction.
That aside, Ruparelia Group whose Chairman is Sudhir Ruparelia has successful won cases in court prohibiting MMKAS Advocates AF Mpanga, Advocates, Sebalu and Lule Advocates from being on any side against his companies since they worked for him at different times. In particular BoU and Dfcu bank lost as court ruled those law firms cannot represent them against any company of Ruparelia Group. This of course has not gone well with BoU and Dfcu bank who thought they would could gain from the knowledge of the prohibited firms in regard to Ruparelia Group of companies.