By Andrew Irumba
Lady justice Suzan Abonyo of the Commercial High Court land Division has Friday thrown out an appeal case in which the owner of Lumumba Avenue based Simbamannyo building and Afrique Suites Hotel located in leafy Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb sought to stop Dr Sudhir Ruparelia from taking over the two buildings, which he bought from Equity Bank, after the owner failed to clear the bank loans valued in billions.
It all begun when the two entities of Equity Bank Uganda and Equity Bank Kenya contributed money together of $3.5m and $2.5m respectively of which Simbamanyo Estates challenged saying that it only considered $7.19m (Shs26.48b), hence accusing Equity Bank Uganda of conniving with Equity Bank Kenya to illegally carry business in Uganda where it has no jurisdiction.
Simbamanyo contended that it started servicing the loan but required more financing, which culminated in two additional facilities granted by Equity Bank Uganda of $1.2m (about sh4.3b) for the completion of the construction of a hotel at Mutungo, a Kampala suburb, and to take over a prior facility from Shelter Afrique hotel.
In addition, the estate company noted that Equity Bank Uganda and Kenya brokered a new deal with Bank one, a Mauritius-based bank, to lend $10m (sh36b) to it to pay the old loan with Equity Bank lenders.
In fear of the impending adverse actions at the time, Simbamanyo says it accepted the Bank one loan offer, which was made on November 16, 2017, to bridge $10m Mauritian loan for purposes of refinancing the existing loans for a period of 24 months.
“Following the Mauritian loan, Equity Bank made a corresponding but fictitious bi-party loan offer for the same amount and tenure to the plaintiff,” the document reads, adding that the fictitious loan amounted to fraudulent misrepresentation by Equity Bank.
Putting the estate’s dissatisfaction aside, on August 7 and 11 this year, the bank advertised the sale of the two properties by way of public auction. The advert for sale of the mortgaged properties intended to enforce the disputed credit facility advanced on November 30, 2017.
This is how Equity Bank sold the property to Sudhir’s Meera Investments Company Limited at a whopping $5million approx. (shs18.5 billion) in an effort to recover Bank’s unpaid loan amounting to about $8.1million (approx. Shs30billion).
“Yes, it’s true I bought Simbamanyo building at USD5m cash after I emerged the highest bidder,” Sudhir told this reporter on phone.