The ongoing legal battle between Uganda’s Central Bank and former Crane Bank owner Dr. Sudhir Ruparelia has taken a new twist with BOU reportedly dropping its pricey external lawyers, Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi of MMAKs Advocates and David Mpanga from AF Mpanga-Bowmans.
The two law firms had already been paid as much as Shs 3,600,000,000 by Bank of Uganda during the early stages of the case according to reports. TheUgandan has requested for a comment from the three parties but some light on the payments was shed in September by Parliament’s Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) when they said they were investigating BOU officials over the expenditure of more than Shs1.4b, with an accrued balance of Shs15.8b in legal fees to MMAKs Advocates, despite having a fully-fledged legal department.
The central bank’s legal director, Ms Margaret Kaggwa Kasule is now understood to be in the process of contracting Sebalu & Lule co. advocates as replacements in Crane Bank case.
This follows Mr. Ruparelia’s decision to drag MMAKS Advocates AF Mpanga-Bowmans to the Commercial Court, condemning their lead lawyers Timothy Masembe and David Mpanga, on grounds of conflict of interest, because they had also acted for Crane Bank, where Mr. Ruparelia is a shareholder.
Mr. Ruparelia’s petition to the High Court insisted Timothy Masembe and David Mpanga had private information that could prejudice the case.
Bank of Uganda sued Sudhir Ruparelia and his Meera investments company for allegedly siphoning a huge sum of money from Crane Bank.
This resulted in Bank of Uganda taking over Crane Bank that it has since sold to DFCU Bank.
Meanwhile, after both parties in the case rejected the earlier appointed mediator Harriet Magala,the Principle judge Yorakamu Bamwine has taken over as the new mediator.
A source revealed that Justice Bamwine met Sudhir, his son Rajiv Ruparelia, his lawyer Peter Kabatsi and Bank of Uganda supervision Director Justine Bagyenda for an hour closed-door discussion on Monday afternoon and one of the considerations was to have Sudhir drop his application to have lawyers Mpanga and Masembe thrown off the case.
Sudhir’s lawyers of will not proceed so as to enable the parties to explore the merits of mediation as earlier advised by Justice David Wangutusi.