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High Court sets date for hearing Sudhir case against BoU lawyers
The High Court has set Wednesday next week to hear an application in which businessman Sudhir Ruparelia is seeking to boot out two prominent law firms representing Bank of Uganda (BoU)and Crane Bank in receivership in a Shs397b case.

The High Court has set Wednesday next week to hear an application in which businessman Sudhir Ruparelia is seeking to boot out two prominent law firms representing Bank of Uganda (BoU)and Crane Bank in receivership in a Shs397b case.

Mr Ruparelia on Wednesday filed 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 now in receivership.

The head of the Commercial Court, Justice David Wangutusi, who is going to handle the matter, has accordingly notified all the parties in the case. Mr Ruparelia, who insists that BoU lawyers are his principal witnesses in the Crane Bank case, is represented by Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA).“Take notice that this court will be moved on the 13th day of September, 2017 at 9am or so thereafter so counsel for the applicant (Mr Ruparelia) can be heard,” the court’s hearing notice issued yesterday reads in part.

Justice Wangutusi is expected to determine whether the BoU lawyers conflicted in acting for BoU and Crane Bank in receivership yet they were representing Crane Bank before the central bank took it over last year on account of alleged malpractice. Mr Ruparelia, in his application insists that the BoU lawyers represented Crane Bank since 2005.

“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 reads in part.

According to court documents, Justice Wangutusi 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.

Argument:

In justifying his rejection of the law firm of AF Mpanga Advocates, the businessman avers that the considerations contained in the report by PWC that was instituted to investigate his alleged mismanagement of Crane Bank, was heavily based on the legal analysis and advise given by Bowmans Uganda which is the other name of AF Mpanga Advocates.Mr Ruparelia argues that the implication of this law firm being heavily involved in coming up with the PWC report, is that they will be are necessary, competent and compellable witnesses to speak of the veracity of the contested report.

On the same day, the Commercial Court will hear an application in which BoU conceded to filing a response to Mr Ruparelia’s countersuit challenging BoU on breach of the Confidential Settlement and Release Agreement. In the countersuit, Mr Ruparelia is seeking to recover $8m from BoU for alleged breach of the agreement he had with central bank authorities.

Although the two parties had agreed not to sue each other, central bank sued Mr Ruparelia seeking to recover close to Shs400b from him. Mr Ruparelia denies any wrongdoing and accused BoU of blackmail. The BoU lawyers have since applied for late submission after Mr Ruparelia’s lawyers protested what they called the blatant violation of the rules. BoU is, however, requesting court to accept their defence despite being filed out of time.

Affidavit:

Complaint: In his application, Mr Sudhir Ruparelia argues that the alleged fraud case that was brought against him by BoU, has a number of falsehoods such as him having been involved in the day-to-day running of the his former Crane Bank and that nothing could happen without his knowledge or approval.

To that effect, he wants Mr Masembe of MMAKS Advocates to defend him on this allegation on grounds that he is aware that: “As my personal lawyers, they are witnesses to the fact that I only sit on the board of directors and did not run the said bank on a day-to-day basis nor was I the dominant executive force.”

He further quotes the BoU fraud against him where it’s alleged that he oversaw then Crane Bank which he allegedly owned and controlled, loan out money to Infinity Investments Ltd at a highly irregular basis and that there was no effort to recover the said loan money. But Mr Ruparelia refutes this assertion on grounds that when Infinity Investments Ltd started defaulting on servicing the loan, MMAKS Advocates was instructed to recover the same.

 

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