By Andrew Irumba
Parliament-City tycoon Dr.Sudhir Ruparelia’s maiden appearance before Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) this morning [Wednesday] coincides with his 42nd wedding anniversary with his lovely better half Jyotsna Ruparelia!. Ruparelia and Jyotsna became one in 1977 at a sumptuous multibillion wedding-budget ceremony at a posh hotel in London where they hosted their guests.
Sudhir faces the probe committee for the very first time, directly to speak about the controversial sale of his Crane Bank Ltd (CBL) to dfcu at a paltry Shs200b, and on credit!
It has been understood so far,that most of the seven closed Banks were never given ample time to explain themselves and even be given time to find remedies to their businesses by BoU officials, majorly because they were hell bent on closing them than helping them to stand as per law dictates. Now, with all the former shareholders of the defunct banks including Sudhir being given ample time to explain their case COSASE, it’s likely that BoU officials are being more exposed and the Bank may end up in billions of shs poorer in compensations.
Already National Bank of Commerce (NBC) on Monday demanded shs290b in compensation.
The committee led by Bugweri county MP Abdul Katuntu is in its final phase of the enquiry into the irregular closure of seven defunct commercial banks, that has put key central bank officials into the spotlight including Ms Justine Bagyenda, whom the Chairman has accused of usurping the Bank’s legal department’s work when she drafted and signed BoU paperwork with external lawyers in selling Crane Bank.
So far the current available evidence and testimonies from the Bank officials themselves that is before COSASE points to the fact that BoU officials made errors against the shareholders of the seven closed banks.
The central bank in October 2016 closed Crane Bank Ltd, previously one of the best performing banks before controversially selling it dfcu Bank in January 2017 for a paltry Shs 200 billion.
In the previous testimonies, Mr Katimbo Mugwanya, a former director at BoU who was appointed Statutory Manager for the sale of Crane Bank Ltd, admitted that he had bungled up the calculations on how the money that was injected in Crane Bank Ltd was deduced.
Governor Mr Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile told MPs that he did not have figures regarding Crane Bank’s undercapitalisation but was contradicted by Mr Benedict Ssekabira, the Director Financial Markets Coordination, who said Crane Bank required a further injection of Shs157b for it to remain afloat.
On the other hand, Ms Justine Bagyenda, who was the executive director of commercial banks supervision when Crane Bank was closed, indicated that the bank required an additional capital of at least Shs32b by September 15, 2016, and progressive capital of Shs56b if capital adequacy was to be restored by October 31, 2017.
Mr Sudhir’s testimony on Wednesday will give the MPs a perspective on all these aspects.
The MPs have also summoned lawyers Kanyererezi Masembe from Masembe, Makubuya, Adriko, Karugaba & Ssekatawa (MMAKS Advocates) and David Mpanga who will be quizzed on how much BoU paid them as legal fees for several cases involving the closed banks.
MMAKS will also be required to clear the air over whether BoU hired them as transaction advisers in the disputed Crane Bank takeover at a fee of $251,045 (about Shs943.3m).
In handpicking MMAKS, MPs have already warned that Ms Bagyenda usurped the powers of the legal department by taking over the drafting of the terms of engagement between BoU and MMAKS.
The COSASE inquiry into the conduct of Bank of Uganda and it’s officials in the closure of seven banks, with some ending up in massive controversy has been focusing on the mismanagement of closed banks by BoU after the Auditor General Mr John Muwanga issued a stinging report of the central bank in a special audit that cited massive flaws in the closure of Teefe Bank (1993), International Credit Bank Ltd (1998), Greenland Bank (1999), The Co-operative Bank (1999), National Bank of Commerce (2012), Global Trust Bank (2014) and the sale of Crane Bank Ltd (CBL) to dfcu (2016).