By Spy Uganda
Kampala: The Bank of Uganda has allowed Dfcu Bank to continue milking money from properties they seized from Sudhir Ruparelia’s Meera Investments when they bought Crane Bank in 2016.
Following the winding up of Crane Bank, Dfcu Bank seized all properties under Meera Investments which had been leased to the Bank (Crane Bank), something that was heavily contested in court. But despite a related case in court, the Bank of Uganda has decided to hand Dfcu bank extra 24 months (two years) to occupy freehold properties of Meera Investments after the initial 34 months ended. Sources say the deal to give Dfcu bank extra time was signed by BoU Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, Deputy Governor Dr Louis Kasekende as well as Head of Legal Margaret Kasule on one side while Dfcu top bosses appended signatures on behalf of the commercial bank.
In October 2016, BoU took over Crane Bank Limited on grounds of undercapitalization, placed it under receivership before transferring it to Dfcu bank in January, 2017. Dfcu bank which received some of the assets and liabilities of CBL would be allowed to operate in different CBL branches whose ownership belonged to Meera Investments, one of companies under Ruparelia Group. The Chairman of Ruparelia Group Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments, in a recent in court application, wants the recovery, transfer and return of freehold property from CBL in receivership.
“…I have been advised by lawyers, Kampala Associated Advocates, which advice I verily believe to be true, that under the Constitution and the Land Act, the Respondent cannot own and hold freehold property and is therefore, not capable of holding the suit property in its names,” the application continues.
Between 2012 and 2016, Meera Investments leased the 46 properties to now defunct CBL on different terms with the leases being duly registered as encumbrances on Meera’s freehold and Mailo interest. The lease titles were subsequently processed and issued to CBL which agreed to pay US$6,000 as ground rent for each of the properties effective on or before the January 1, of every year to the property owners (Meera Investments). However, when BoU handed over CBL to Dfcu bank, which was the new tenant, it seized over the 46 properties, without the consent of Meera Investments.
Through a subsequent search at the relevant land registries, Meera Investments discovered that; without it’s prior written consent, Dfcu bank in addition to taking possession of the suit properties, had caused the leasehold interest to be transferred into its names and had been registered thereon as the proprietor of the leasehold interest. They add that at the execution of the transfers in favour of Dfcu and at the time of causing the transfer of the leasehold interest into the names of Dfcu, the registration of Meera as the proprietor of the freehold and Mailo was and is still intact. Meera Investment officials say Dfcu Bank was aware of this fact or could have ascertained by way of a simple search, but went ahead to fraudulently effect ownership into their names, which is illegal.