By Max Patrick Ocaido
Sudhir Ruparelia, the proprietor of defunct Crane Bank Limited (CBL) says that the former Executive Director in charge of Bank Supervision at Bank of Uganda, Justine Bagyenda forced him to buy National Bank of Commerce (NBC).
NBC is one of the 7 banks that were controversially closed by the Central Bank and are currently under probe by the Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE). NBC that was closed in 2012 was founded by several shareholders among them include; Nzeyi, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Prof. George Kanyeihamba and others. Subsequently, NBC that was closed over under-capitalization was sold by the Central Bank to Crane Bank.
However, while appearing before COSASE on Wednesday, Sudhir said that Bagyenda used her influence to force Crane Bank into buying NBC.
“Our brothers in arms at NBC have expressed some concerns about CBL in relations to NBC assets. We would like to clarify that CBL was not interested in acquiring the assets of NBC, nor bid for these assets. CBL was compelled to acquire these assets by the then EDs Justine Bagyenda,” Sudhir said.
Sudhir said that it was a one Thursday afternoon when Bagyenda called up the then Crane Bank Managing Director, A.R Kalan on phone and directed him to buy NBC.
“She [Bagyenda] did this over the telephone. She called up the CBL MD, Mr. Kalan and informed us that she was directing us to acquire these assets. She wasn’t asking. It was an order,” he said.
As a result, Kalan called up the members of the board and informed them of the directive leading to the signing of the Purchase of Assets and Assumption of Liabilities Agreement with BoU on 27th September 2012.
Sudhir said that Crane Bank paid Shs1.1trillion while the NBC bad book was not transferred to the Bank and instead it was left as assets held in Escrow and belonged to BoU.
According to the purchase agreement that Kampala Post has seen, the purchaser- Crane Bank was supposed to take over former NBC branches in Kabale including land. However, Sudhir said that this land has never been transferred to Crane Bank and in fact they never asked for it.
Sudhir added that CBL never purchased any foreign exchange at a discounted price from anyone and that there is no reference to this anywhere in the agreement.