KAMPALA: Ida May Kwesiga who owns Mayflower apartments sitting on an acre of land at Nakasero in August ran to the Land Division of the High Court in Kampala to sue Housing Finance Bank together with Balaji Group East Africa Limited, protesting the sale of her property at a ‘give away’ price far below the valued rate.
According to documents seen by Dailypost, the property that sits on an acre in Nakasero was valued at Shs30b but was sold at Shs8b on freehold (Freehold Register volume 212 Folio, 22, Plot 35 Kyadondo Road in Kampala) to Balaji Group Ltd, a wholly foreign-owned company.
It should be noted that according to Ugandan laws, the land belongs to the citizens of Uganda and non-citizens can only acquire such land by lease (Article 237).
However, Housing finance working with lawyers Fred Makada on Behalf of Balaji Group Ltd and Jones Musiime on behalf of the bank illegally transferred Kwesiga’s land titles to the foreign-owned company in total disregard of three interim court orders and a directive from President Museveni.
According to registration details obtained on Balaji Group Ltd, the company is directed by four people all of Indian nationality. These include; Mallesswari Srinivas Bhavanam, Munnangi Ramasita, Karan Reddy Bhavanam, and Sirisha Munnangi, all residents of Kampala.
How did it start?
The businesswoman Ida Kwesigwa, says she entered into an agreement with the bank in 2013 to develop her property by erecting the apartments and the bank approved a loan of $2.7m to her, which was to be paid back in 10 years.
As such, she used a facility located along Luthuli Avenue in Bugoloobi to secure the loan.
She claims that the bank them started giving unreasonable terms of payment, forcing her to default her loan.
She was consequently issued with a default notice on July 3, 2009, Two months later (September 9, 2019) the bank issued a sale notice, and a month later (October 15, 2019), they advertised the sale of Kwesiga’s property.
The bank would later sell the property to Balaji Group during COVID-10 lockdown, a time when land transactions had been restricted.
Kwesigwa runs to court
Kwesiga ran to court seeking redress. According to her, the sale of the property did not give her enough time to understand the circumstances of her mortgage as well as consider the valuation of her family’s property.
She argues that she was given unconscionable terms, there was a misrepresentation of facts by members of staff o the bank and she was never given chance to be represented by an independent financial advisor.
Even then, Kwesiga claims she was hampered with financial challenges posed by the COVID pandemic and there was a reduction in cash flow, hence the bank should have considered the situation and restructured the terms of her property.
To make matters worse, the bank did not issue another default notice and did re-evaluate the property to find its current value before hastily selling it to Balaji Group.
Court halts transfer of ownership
With the sale already made to Balaji Group, High Court Deputy Registrar Susan Kanyange extended the order to stop the transfer of ownership of the property from Kwesiga to Balaji.
This was the second time court was granting Kwesiga her wish after Justine Akwankwatsa on 31st August issued an order stopping the transfer of ownership.
The bank had also prior been advised by the Land Registration Commissioner to cease the transfer of the said property.
President Museveni on September 18th also intervened by issuing a directive to the bank through their Managing Director asking that they cease the transfer of Kwesiga’s property.
“Whereas I am aware of the mandate of the bank when it comes to non- performance loans, Ida May Kwesiga should be given opportunity to sell the property herself and pay the bank within a period of two months,” Museveni decreed in the letter also copied to the Governor Bank of Uganda and May Kwesiga.
However, according to sources we contacted, the bank has since disregarded the court orders and Museveni’s directive, further proceeding to make transfers.
“As we speak, Mr. Makada and John Musiime are in the process of backdating files of Balaji Group Ltd at the Uganda Registrations Service Bureau,” Finch Ateenyi, an interested party in the case claims.
Daily Post contacted Lawyer Fr Makada for his comment using the official contacts of the law firm but could not get through.
What does Bank say?
According to the bank, Kwesiga failed to comply with the terms of the mortgage causing them to issue notices for sale.
When the notices were issued, the Balaji group expressed interest and emerged the highest bidder. The bank them consented to sell the property to the company.
Balaji group immediately made a down payment of $1.5m and agreed to tender in the balance of $900,000 by December 2021.
The bank then issued notices to tenants to at Mayflower apartments to start paying rent to Balaji and not Kwesiga.
However, the bank insists that they only sold Kwesiga’s apartments and not the estate.