Lawyers representing Bank of Uganda in a case against former Crane Bank proprietor Sudhir Ruparelia have said they are the only “incorruptible” attorneys in the country.
This is contained in the affidavits sworn by a one Sembatya and Kasozi in reply to Sudhir’s application seeking the removal of David Mpanga and Timothy Masembe of A F Mpanga and MMAKS law firms respectively, as lawyers of the central bank.
Sudhir accuses the attorneys, who were recently hired by Bank of Uganda to take him on in a bank fraud case, of conflict of interest and breach of trust as they had earlier served as his personal lawyers.
In their defence, the lawyers said they were the “only capable, ethical and incorruptible lawyers in Uganda capable of handling this matter.”
However, the statement has been received with mixed reactions.
In response, Sudhir’s lawyers, Kampala Associates Advocates (KAA) said the claim was “false, scandalous and presumptuous.”
A lawyer, who preferred anonymity so as to speak freely, described the statements as “demeaning” and “unacceptable.”
Mpanga and Masembe have in recent weeks been in the eye of the storm after accepting to take instructions from the central bank to prosecute their former client – Sudhir and Meera Investments.
The two law firms say they only represented Sudhir’s companies not him.
The lawyers further argued that Sudhir was trying to “conflate” Crane Bank limited with him.
“I want to say that I still work for it (Crane Bank) but Sudhir is Sudhir not those business entities,” Masembe was quoted by Daily Monitor as saying.
However, according to the Advocates Professional Conduct regulations, lawyers are barred from prejudicing former clients.
Section 4 provides that, “An advocate shall not accept instructions from any person in respect of a contentious or non-contentious matter if the matter involves a former client and the advocate as a result of acting for the former client is aware of any facts which may be prejudicial to the client in this matter.”
Sudhir argues that the two counsels previously represented Crane Bank which was then under him, and should be dismissed on the grounds conflict of interest.
The businessman on September 11 tendered more evidence which he said proves that he personally directed the law firms and their lawyers to do his work, dismissing claims of trying to conflate Crane Bank with him as “false” and “argumentative.”
He asserted: “By way of example, I personally instructed MMAKS Advocates, received and approved a fee note from MMAKS Advocates for work done in the preparation of a sale/purchase agreement and registration of transfers for property comprised in Kyadondo Block 208, Plots 55, 556, 557, 558, 559, 561, 562, 563 and 564 Kawempe.”
The tax invoice from MMAKS Advocates to its client Meera Investments Limited with Sudhir’s signature approving the invoice has since been submitted before court.
“The assertion that MMAKS Advocates have never been my personal lawyers or lawyers for companies in which I have an interest is manifestly false,” he argued.
He further contends that A F Mpanga Advocates were advocates of Crane Bank and by “my virtue of my being a shareholder and director of Crane Bank, the said firm were my lawyers.”