By Andrew Irumba
The High Court has set Thursday December 21st to determine an application filed by city business mogul Sudhir Ruparelia in which he is seeking court to boot out two prominent law firms representing Bank of Uganda (BoU) in the UGX 397B Crane Bank case.
Mr.Vincent Mugabo,the registrar in the commercial Division of the High court issued the notice for the ruling on preliminary matter raised by Mr.Sudhir. The court notice was issued on Tuesday.
Mr. Sudhir swore an affidavit in court accusing MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates of conflict of interest and breach of advocate-client relationship on account of their past dealings with him and the Crane Bank when they were fronted as BoU lawyers in the case against the tycoon and his Crane Bank.
Mr. Ruparelia, in his application insists that the BoU lawyers represented Crane Bank since 2005 until they went into receivership.
“MMAKS Advocates were Crane Bank’s lawyers [from 2005] until the date of its takeover by Bank of Uganda on 20th October, 2016. During the management and conduct of the affairs of Crane Bank, the executive directors regularly consulted and wholly relied upon the advice of MMAKS Advocates and in that consultation, the board and the management shared facts which are in issue in the case,” Mr Ruparelia’ s affidavit read in part.
According to court documents, court will also rule on whether by acting as BoU counsel, they would be in violation of advocate-client relationship and the advocate (professional conduct) regulation. The judge will also determine whether some of the lawyers such as Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi and David FK Mpanga from the aforementioned law firms are potential witnesses in High Court case 493 of 2017 and if so, be barred from representing BoU and Crane Bank.
We never represented Dr.Sudhir at any time in court!
In their joint defence, MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates denied that Mr.Sudhir has ever been their client!
They argued that former Crane Bank and Mr.Sudhir are two different entities and therefore representing the former didn’t imply they represented the latter even when he was a shareholder in the defunct bank.
“The claims of fraudulent extraction of monies by the 1st defendant (Mr.Sudhir) from the plaintiff (crane Bank) which are subject of this suit only came to light subsequent to and by reason of forensic audit carried out by PWC after 20th Oct 2016 and were not known by anyone other than the 1st defendant and his associates/co-conspirators prior to the issuance of PWC’s forensic audit report” Read the joint statement of defence of the law firms.
The two law firms separately swore affidavits in defence of their instructions by Bank of Uganda to defend Crane Bank in the case.
On October 25th 2016, Bank of Uganda took over Crane Bank saying the Bank was incurably drained financially and paused a systemic risk to the country’s Banking sector.