Business

Sudhir to Lawyers Mpanga, Masembe: You Ate My Money

mase
MMAKS' invoice to Meera Investments for pay of legal service

The showdown between Sudhir Ruparelia and the Central Bank’s lawyers has escalated with the businessman insisting he personally instructed David Mpanga and Timothy Masembe of AF Mpanga Advocates and MMAKS Advocates respectively to do his personal work.

Sudhir recently sued the central bank’s lawyers Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi and David Mpanga of MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates respectively for breach of trust, conflict of interest and stabbing him in the back.

The two law firms, which were hired by Crane Bank to take on Sudhir in a bank fraud case, denied the claim, saying they only represented his companies not him.

The lawyers further argued that Sudhir was trying to ‘conflate Crane Bank limited” with himself.

“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.

But Sudhir 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.

Sudhir wants Masembe and Mpanga struck off the list of lawyers representing Bank of Uganda and Crane Bank for breach of trust, conflict of interest and betrayal.

“In the time I dealt with MMAKS Advocates, I dealt with the partners of MMAKS Advocates, specifically Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi in relation to the companies in which I have an interest like Crane Bank Limited, Meera Investments, Rosebud, Speke Hotel and in my personal work,” said Sudhir.

“Mr Masembe is aware of the extent of my client advocate relationship with MMAKS Advocates whom he says are necessary, competent and compellable witnesses.”

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.”

They cite the example of a case where MMAKS Advocates acted against Meera Investments Limited in 2006.

MMAK’S Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi

MMAK’S Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi

Another request for payment from MMAKS to Sudhir's company

Another request for payment from MMAKS to Sudhir’s company

But Sudhir said they never raised an objection in the said suit and that was not a “license for MMAKS Advocates to act in breach of confidence” in the instant suit.

He said MMAKS Advocates have acted for Crane Bank and the board (on which he sits) in the matters in issue in HCCS 493 of 2017 and have obtained knowledge as a result of acting as lawyers.

Some of these matters in issue include but are not limited to; issues of shareholding, issues on the duties of directors; issues to do with Infinity Investments Ltd and issues to do with Technology Associates.

MMAKS Advocates, according to Sudhir, will further be required as witnesses regarding the day to day running of Crane Bank Limited.

Infinity

The lawyers had earlier accused Sudhir of not doing enough to recover money loaned to Infinity Investments Limited.

Sudhir says MMAKS Advocates were instructed to sue Mahoud Bharwani and sell the mortgaged property.

“I know that as the firm that conducted the due diligence on Infinity Investments before any money was disbursed to the company and further as the firm that was instructed to recover the bank’s money from Infinity Investments Limited, MMAKS Advocates are necessary, compellable and competent witnesses to answer the averments in the plaint that are false,” he adds.

“I further know that any attempt to use the knowledge they obtained to my prejudice as a result of the instructions they received is manifest breach of MMAKS Advocates fiduciary obligations.”

Sudhir said MMAKS’ representative, Sembatya; by purporting to reveal the extent of his instructions, “moreover falsely, in order to prejudice me and even expand the allegations in the plaint is a clear violation and betrayal of more than 12 year trust in MMAKS Advocates.”

He also noted that MMAKs advocates “has not informed me that they failed to sell the mortgaged property.”

Additionally, Sudhir said the lawyers from A F Mpanga Advocates need to assist court as witnesses to material questions of fact in regard to the existence of the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) forensic report, the methodology used to arrive at its conclusions and indeed on the conclusions themselves.

The lawyers had submitted that the plaint against Sudhir is based on an alleged forensic report allegedly written by PWC Uganda.

But Sudhir says the PwC document was not attached to the plaint and the plaintiff “declined to avail the same to me when I made a formal request for the production of documents.”

The meetings, discussions and negotiations on it and each party’s conduct after it was signed are material to both the main suit and counter claim, according to Sudhir.

“In all these dealings, the principal actors for Crane Bank and Bank of Uganda were MMAKS Advocates and AF Mpanga Advocates,” he observed, adding, “They are necessary, competent and compellable witnesses to elaborate on the matters of CSRA and the role they personally played in the breakdown of its implementation.”

But Sembatya and Kasozi alleged that MMAKS and A F Mpanga are the “only capable, ethical and incorruptible lawyers in Uganda capable of handling this matter.”

Sudhir dismissed this claim as “false, scandalous and presumptuous.”

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