Business magnate Sudhir Ruparelia can now breathe a sigh of relief as his five year court battle with Bank of Uganda over Crane Bank has come to a victorious end.
In a landmark ruling this morning, the Supreme Court has directed that the management of Crane Bank be reverted to its shareholders and BoU pay the costs of the multiple suits.
In October 2016, BoU took over the management of Crane Bank sighting undercapitalisation and sold it to Dfcu Bank the following January.
BoU and Crane Bank in receivership sued Sudhir and his Meera Investments accusing him of siphoning Shs397 billion out of Crane bank. The Commercial Court dismissed the case in 2019 ruling that Crane Bank was a non-existent entity since it went into had gone into receivership and therefore could not sue or be suit.
BoU wasn’t satisfied with the ruling and lodged an appeal in the Court of Appeal, but again Sudhir was victorious, prompting them to head to the Supreme Court.
BoU attempted to withdraw its appeal from the Supreme Court before it was heard, but Sudhir’s lawyers Kampala Associated Advocates objected to the withdrawal.
This morning, five justices of the Supreme Court including Rubby Opio Aweri, Percy Tuhaise, Ezekiel Muhanguzi, Prof.Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza and Faith Mwondha dismissed BoU’s appeal and also directed that the central Bank pay costs in the terms found by the Court of Appeal.
“For avoidance of doubt, the Court of Appeal upheld the finding of the trial court which ordered that the costs of the suit were to be borne by the Bank of Uganda since it was behind the filing of the suit and other subsequent actions. That order shall stand,” the Supreme Court directed.
The Supreme Court also ruled that the management of Crane Bank be returned to the shareholders including Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments Limited since receivership had ended in 2018.
“We equally considered this aspect in our ruling and found that indeed, receivership of the appellant (Crane Bank in receivership) had ended on January, 20, 2018. The implication of that finding in our view is that the management of the appellant be reverted to shareholders after the January, 20, 2018,” the court directed.
An elated Sudhir said justice had prevailed and that the judiciary had done its part. He thanked his lawyers led by Senior Counsel Peter Kabatsi. He said if BoU is dissatisfied with the ruling, they can go and appeal to God.
“I want to thank the judiciary and the courts for giving me justice. It has taken more than five years to fight this case and it has impacted on our businesses. I want to thank all the lawyers for their time. Honestly BoU stole money in the name of Crane Bank and even Auditor General has said so. The legal department of BoU is so corrupt and is misleading the board. BoU legal department should go and appeal to God” Sudhir said.