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Business

Sudhir Slams BoU on Accountability; Demands Crane Bank Sale Documents

Bank of Uganda headquarters in Kampala
Bank of Uganda is being accused of lack of accountability

Former proprietor of Crane Bank Limited Sudhir Ruparelia fired back Thursday, at accusations raised against him by the Bank and the Central Bank, in a fraud case now before High Court.

In the lengthy response which he filed through his lawyers of Kampala Associated Advocates, the tycoon denied most of the accusations specified in the case.

He also went on the offensive, accusing Bank of Uganda of among others failing to provide accountability to Crane Bank Shareholders, ever since taking it under receivership last year.

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On October 20th 2016, Governor Bank of Uganda, Prof Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile announced takeover of the failing Crane Bank, whose liabilities he said “grossly exceeded its assets” and that it was insolvent.

Sudhir, in his response today however, took exception of the fact that the Central Bank, since the takeover, provided no accountability to the Crane Bank shareholders, which he said is in total violation of the Receiver’s fiduciary obligations.

On January 27, 2017, Crane Bank was sold and all its assets and liabilities transferred by the Central Bank, to DFCU Bank.

Yet, according to Sudhir, the details of the sale of his bank are not known.

He says he intends to compel Bank of Uganda to reveal particularly the price at which the Bank’s assets were acquired.

“The 1st Defendant (Sudhir) shall at the earliest opportunity seek disclosure for all documents relating to the agreement between the Receiver and DFCU Bank, and in particular the purchase price of the Plaintiff’s (Crane Bank) assets,” he said.

The tycoon also wants to find out all the operating costs that Bank of Uganda has incurred since taking over the bank.

Before the takeover, Crane Bank’s operating costs were averaging at Shs. 90billion per year.

Meanwhile, Sudhir denied accusations that he caused the collapse of Crane Bank by breaching his duties as a non-executive director, noting to the contrary, that he “acted in the best commercial interests of the (bank).

As such, he said, during the time he was its non-executive director, Crane Bank expanded from its single branch in 1995 to 46 operational branches, serving over 600,000 customers by October 2016 when Bank of Uganda took it over.

The bank’s assets, he noted, grew to Shs. 1.8 trillion as recorded in the 2015 annual audited report, making it the 4th largest financial institution in the country.

He says the bank only collapsed when its Non-performing loan ratio expanded as a result of a slowdown in the economy which affected the businesses of its large borrowers, thus eroding its core capital.

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