Businessman Patrick Bitature who is embroiled in a $34m dispute with his lenders Vantage Capital has come out to distance property magnate Sudhir Ruparelia from his troubles.
Last week, social media was awash with speculation that Sudhir could be behind Vantage’s attempt to take over Bitature’s empire after the company took out a newspaper advert putting Bitature’s properties including Naguru Skyz Hotel on sale in a bid to recover their loan.
Bitature has taken to his official Twitter handle to distance Sudhir from the saga.
“I would like to assure all of you that I do not think anybody in Uganda and in particular my long time friend Sudhir Ruperalia is after my property. Unfortunately, this is part of a deliberate smear campaign aimed at eroding both his and my reputation in the eyes of the public,” Bitature tweeted.
Bitature is on record for heaping praises on Sudhir as one of the people who helped him acquire wealth.
The genesis of the dispute is in 2014 when Bitature took out a $10m loan from Vantage. He was given a three-year grace period but when the loan was due in 2017, he was unable to pay and it was restructured to 2019.
In 2019 however, Bitature turned to court to “protest” the high interest rate of 35 per cent. Court advised arbitration.
Vantage recently tried to transfer shares in Bitature’s properties that were staked as security to themselves in a bid to recover their loan but they were blocked by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau on grounds that they were not Ugandan registered and had no jurisdiction to do business here.
After a court case where they were unsuccessful, Bitature’s lawyer Fred Muwema went ahead to say that Bitature had no debt to pay because he had dealt with, “a ghost”, a non existent entity in the Ugandan jurisdiction.
However, Vantage’s lawyer Robert Kirunda successfully secured a court ruling that Bitature could be privately sued by Vantage to recover their loan.
Bitature then issued a statement acknowledging the loan and he has committed to “having the business dispute resolved at the earliest opportunity.”