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    More Tears For Bitature: Court Allows Money Lender To Sell His Properties….

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    Businessman Patrick Bitature and some of his properties that were auctioned

    Embattled city tycoon Patrick Bitature is in more trouble after the High Court Commercial Division dismissed with costs his application to save his multibillion properties over $10m debt.

    In his ruling, Justice Stephen Mubiru insisted that there were no serious questions of law and facts to be tried by his court to justify Bitature’s application through his lawyers led by Fred Muwema to grant a temporary injunction stopping the sell of the contested properties.

    In his ruling, which Vantage Capital will receive with open hands, Justice Mubiru said, “On the basis of all the foregoing considerations. I found that this application and the underlying suit were entirely misconceived on account of the fact that they were instituted against agents of a known principle and on ground that the matters placed in the issue in the suit are already the subject of a subsisting arbitral process.

    “This Court had on two occasions before already declared that it will not exercise jurisdiction over the matter in light of the submission to arbitration that is valid, binding, operative and enforceable. I found it necessary in the circumstances to consider the rest of the criteria for the grant of a temporary injunction.”

    In his application, Bitature wanted a temporary injunction stopping Robert Kirunda, Noah Shamah Wasige partners at M/S Kirunda and Wasige Advocates, Festus Kateregga, a reknown city court bailiff practicing with M/S Quick Way Auctioneers, Court Bailiffs and Commissioner land registration, who is responsible is supervising and ensuring the proper custody and updating the national land register and certificate of land titles, from selling his multi-billion shillings properties.

    In his application, Bitature accused the defendants of illegally, trying to sell his properties by public auction, through newspaper adverts on 18th of May 2022, acting on the instructions of M/S Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership.

    He insisted through his Simba Properties Investment Company Limited and Simba Telecom Limited that Vintage agents wanted to illegally sell by auction; Elizabeth Apartments at Kololo Kampala, Protea Hotel at Naguru Kampala, Sky Hotels at Kampala, Moyo Close Apartments and Kololo Gardens claiming that they were demanding him over $32m.

    Muwema told Court that Vantage cannot issue a notice of sale when there is a pending arbitration in London. He added that it was declared by the High Court Civil Division that Vantage lacked locus and presence capacity to demand the said money because they did not comply with the mandatory requirements of registration under section 4 of The Partnership Act.

    He pleaded asked court to declare that Vantage agents acted illegally and also penalise them with a custodial sentence or fine them.

    However, in their defense, the respondents insisted that Bitature cannot sue a recognised agent that is executing the powers given to them yet he knows them very well because they have participated in all the mortgage agreements which the judge agreed with.

    Justice Mubiru revealed that he was not convinced by the submissions from Bitature’s lawyers that he has high chances of winning the matter before the arbitration in London.

    Justice Mubiru noted, “The purpose of granting an interim measure of protection is the preservation of the parties’ legal rights pending the arbitration. The court doesn’t determine the legal rights that are the subject of the arbitration but merely preserves the status quo until the parties’ respective rights can be established or declared by the arbitrator.”

    “In the result, I found that a prima facie case had not been established. There were no serious questions of law and fact to be tried by this court to justify the grant of a temporary injunction. The application was thus dismissed with costs to the respondents and the underlying suit was struck out with costs to the defendants,” Justice Mubiru ruled.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    MY MONEY

    Equity Bank’s Bid To Grab Tycoon Higenyi’s Building Becomes Complicated After Gen. Museveni Intervenes…

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    Equity Bank Kampala Road branch and tycoon Higenyi's Namuswa Plaza (R) in Wandegeya

    Kampala city tycoon Dr. Alfred Higenyi Mwenembiye Jaala, who is also a senior NRM cadre, has managed to get the President to intervene in the quarreling between him and Equity Bank Uganda.

    The big man from Rwakitura has already assigned a top Minister to find a way of ensuring that Higenyi doesn’t get deprived of his property unfairly.

    The property in question is the famous Namuswa Plaza (Block 38 Kibuga Plots 298 & 299) which is a huge commercial building based in Wandegeya.

    Higenyi, a vastly rich man with a lot of prime property in Kampala, accuses Equity Bank of fraudulently trying to hide behind the 3bn loan they gave him on 23rd December 2020 to grab his Building valued at 10bn. At the prompting of State House, Higenyi, a long-time friend of Gen Salim Saleh, was asked to put his complaint in writing to enable the president to find some effective way to intervene.

    State House sources have since shared a copy of his 2-page petition which is firmly in the hands of the President with all the relevant annexures. The annexures relate to documentation and correspondence which has been exchanged over the years regarding the 3bn loan.

    In the petition, the senior NRM cadre from Butaleja explains everything clearly indicating why he thinks the much-hated Equity Bank didn’t treat him fairly at all. He starts by begging Museveni “intervene” to help “rescue” his property because it’s all he has looking at it has his source of pension in retirement. ”Equity Bank has made it a habit to grab our properties in the recent times even if one offered to pay,” Higenyi states in a bid to liken Equity Bank to mischief similar to what Sudhir used to be accused of.

    He admits the loan he took out on 23rd December 2020 was repayable in 8 years. That he used the money to complete the building which originally existed as a mere shell. That he acquired the building in that shell state and had to remodel it for the tenants to be able to move in. He says as soon as he began earning some rental income, COVID19 struck and this complicated things for not only him but all other arcade owners.

    Higenyi explains to the President that because businesses were closed down, for two years he didn’t earn any income because his Namuswa Plaza was closed as all tenants stayed away. He approached Equity Bank and requested to have the loan restructured to have a longer repayment period but they refused even when they knew he wasn’t earning anything. “Instead they increased the repayment installments from 57m to 65m per month.”

    He explains this made worse an already bad situation because even when the economy reopened, many of his tenants didn’t return. This deprived him of business and opportunity to make money and be able to promptly pay up but the authorities at Equity Bank weren’t that understanding.

    Higenyi informed the President that he ended up managing 30m per month where Equity Bank demanded 65m.

    That in total, he has so far deposited 500m out of the 3bn he took out barely 2 years ago. Equity Bank insists the balance is now 4.4bn which means the total becomes 4.9bn which Higenyi must pay up and now as opposed to 8 year repayment period he was originally offered.

    On 15th August 2022, Equity bank advertised the building and gave him up to 15th September. He says within that one month, he tried five times to engage his creditors but Equity bosses denied him audience. To him, this shows they were not acting in good faith. Their interest was the building and not recovering the money.

    This prompted him to engage a lawyer, who is former Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana to secure a court injunction against Equity bank. One of Higenyi’s spouses has also put a caveat on the property implying no transaction should take place. She is putting a caveat because this is part of the family property or estate yet no spousal consent was obtained as required by law as the mortgage was being undertaken between her husband and Equity bank.

    The spousal consent plea, once successfully pleaded, could put Equity bank in real trouble to the extent they might even fail to ever recover anything once court declares the mortgage invalid or defective for want of spousal consent.

    Higenyi says that the property value currently is 10bn and yet Equity bank has rejected his proposal to be the one to get the buyer and give them what is due to them. He says this too has been rejected by Equity which shows they have fraudulent intentions. He wonders why Equity bank has rejected his own buyer who wanted to pay 10bn for the building.

    He says his lawyer of Kayanja & Co Advocates has been engaging on his behalf but Equity bank has been dodging them which clearly shows they are not acting in good faith. He wonders why Equity bank even goes as far as ignoring the caveat on the property which has since been sold to SINACO Ltd, a company which is owned by Kampala tycoon Swaib Kiyemba and his son Moses Kiyemba. SINCO is also the one which bought the building housing Senana supermarket near State House Nakasero and Nana hostel in Kagugube near Makerere/LDC. All these were being sold as a result of foreclosure after the original owners failed to meet loan obligations.

    Higenyi informs Museveni of the trauma he endured on Tuesday 4th October when a group of heavily armed army men and policemen raided his Namuswa Plaza management offices and forcefully took over ownership of the building. The Wandegeya DPC commanded the operation which Higenyi says shows bias.

    They claimed to act on behalf of SINCO Ltd whose lawyers from D Kagarura Advocates & Solicitors subsequently went to the building and informed tenants that management and ownership of the building had changed.

    Higenyi also reveals to the President that effective 15th September, he began seeing notifications on his phone indicating some money was being deposited and received on his bank account, something he objected to but still Equity bank never cooperated. The bank eventually purported to garnish his bank account in order to deny him any access to the same.

    He says he was treated very unfairly because he got the money and was ready to pay up within the notice period of 15th August to 15th September but Equity bank denied him audience.

    He concludes with “Your Excellency this is my life investment which I look to for my entire family and very many dependents’ survival. I’m also your ardent cadre from Butaleja. The habit of banks grabbing our property and nobody comes to intervene leaves a bitter taste in our mouth.”

    He signed off as Dr. Higenyi Alfred Jaala the chairman for board of directors.

     

    By Grapevine Reporter

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    Desperate Housewife Blocks Tropical Bank From Selling Matrimonial Home Over Shs.2.9bn Debt…

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    Muhammed Hala, the wife to a city businessman has blocked Tropical Bank from selling their matrimonial home over Shs2.9bn debt.

    She petitioned the High Court Commercial Division challenging the actions of the bank threatening to put their matrimonial home on the market through advertising it in the media without her knowledge.

    In her affidavit, Hala insisted that her husband Muhammed Tariq, of Sudan origin mortgaged their matrimonial home sitting on plot 195 Kawempe Division Kampala City to Tropical bank without her consent as stipulated by law as a spouse and she only learnt about it through media.

    She explained that as a wife, her children don’t have where to go if the said house is put on auction and sold.

    She pleaded with Court to issue a temporary injunction stopping the bank, its agents from going on with their planned move to auction their home.

    Juliet Hatanga, the Deputy Registrar of the High Court Commercial Division agreed with the applicant and stopped the sale of the house until the entire petition is heard and determined.

    “I find it necessary to grant the application of the temporary injunction pursuant to regulation 13(4) of the Mortgage Regulations,” she ruled.

    She however directed the applicant to deposit in Court 30% of the forced sale value of the mortgage property within 45 days from the day of the ruling.

    theGrapevine has established that Hala has deposited in Court her land title comprising Kyadondo Block 107 plot 148 Nakyesanja, Wakiso district, which is valued Shs.1.49bn.

    In 2015, Tariq obtained the Shs.8bn loan using his matrimonial home and their family property on plot 5 Luthuli Drive in Kampala city but failed to service his loan which resulted in bank’s actions to auction the said properties.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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    SIMBAMANYO SAGA: Tycoons Sudhir, Luwangula, Equity Bank, Top Judges, Lawyers In Bitter Fight Over Shs.40bn Deal…

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    Tucoons Peter Kamya (top L) and Sudhir Ruparelia (bottom L) and Justice Stephen Mubiru (R)

    On Thursday, Justice Stephen Mubiru, the Head of the High Court Commercial Division dismissed with costs two applications filed by Equity bank Uganda Ltd, Meera Investments Ltd, Luwaluwa Investments and Katende Ssempebwa and Company Advocate seeking stay of the proceedings challenging the process followed during the selling and buying of multibillion properties belonging to city businessman Peter Kamya.

    Kamya, through his lawyers led by commercial law giant Ebert Byenkya filed an application for discovery of e-mails and bank accounts of the defendants insisting that they are very crucial in prosecuting their matter and will help Court to deliver a fair decision which the defendants strongly objected to.

    In his affidavit to support his application, Kamya told Court that he received detailed information from a whistleblower that there was a lot of syndicate and communication between the defendants which resulted into a bribe of USD1.8million exchanging hands to defraud the system so that he loses his Simbamanyo building on Lumumba Avenue Kampala which was sold to Meera Investments Limited and his Afrique Suits on Mutungo hill which was sold to Luwaluwa Investments limited by Equity bank.

    Kamya claims that Ronald Luwangula, the proprietor of Luwaluwa Investment connived with lawyers and Equity bank officials to defraud the process.

    He detailed that Luwangula borrowed money from equity bank under the guise of shipping his goods which were stuck in Japan.

    But when the bank gave him the money, he sold his building in Wandegeya and added the money onto the bank loan and ended up buying his Afrique Suits.

    He added that the lawyers masterminded the entire fraud by illegally advising Sudhir to transfer his Simbamanyo building in minutes after signing purchase agreement with equity bank and the transaction was done during 2020 Covid-19 Lockdown.

    Byenkya based his case on a Supreme Court judgment which states that whenever there is any fraud in the process a transaction, the entire transaction is declared illegal.

    The defendants rubbished the plaintiff’s case insisting that he failed to service his USD10 million debt that resulted in auctioning his properties which he used as security.

    Sources at the Commercial Court told theGrapevine that the defendants petitioned Justice Rubby Aweri Opio, the Chief Inspector of Courts after Justice Mubiru took almost two months without hearing their two applications to appeal in the Court of Appeal challenging his rulings against them.

    The defendants accused Justice Mubiru of being biased and not following the Civil procedures and rules when presiding over the controversial case.

    A source revealed that one of the senior lawyers at Katende Ssempebwa and Company Advocates stormed Justice Mubiru’s chambers pleading with him to allow them to proceed with their appeal.

    “You know that senior lawyer thought that because he was Justice Mubiru’s teacher at the law school (Makerere University) and at the Law Development Center, he will use that background to convince him but the man stood his ground and refused to allow them to appeal against his ruling,” a source said.

    He added that the senior lawyer was very bitter with Justice Mubiru and threatened him that he will soon be forced out of the Commercial Court the way Justice Henry Adonya left after his controversial judgement in Shs.200bn case between Diamond Trust Bank and city tycoon Hamis Kiggundu the proprietor of Ham Enterprises Limited.

    Sources explained that before petitioning Justice Aweri, lawyers petitioned other top judicial officers to intervene in the matter and a number of phone calls were made to Justice Mubiru to change his mind but like Justice Esther Kisakye of the Supreme Court, Justice Mubiru stubbornly responded to his superiors that he swore before the president to deliver justice to all Ugandans without fear or favor.

    The respondents claimed that Kamya’s application was only based on hearsay and if Justice Mubiru’s ruling is not overturned by the Court of Appeal, it will set precedence that any person can come up with a frivolous suit without any evidence of any crime committed demanding to inspect and see another person’s financial statements and other personal records.

    They added that the ruling is very risky to the banking industry and customer’s confidentiality which has to be protected.

    One of the lawyers of the respondents revealed to theGrapevine that there is a lawyer who has been representing Sudhir who leaked vital information to counsel Fred Muwema, one of Kamya’s lawyers.

    And the reason why Kamya’s lawyers are insisting on the emails is because they are sure that whatever the e-mails and bank accounts will reveal, will end the entire case because the whole fraud that led to the execution of the transactions in which their client lost his properties is buried there.

    On 19th September 2022, Justice Aweri wrote to Justice Mubiru directing him to forward the entire Simbamanyo file to him to investigate a number of allegations put against him on the way he presiding the matter.

    “Under Section 9 and 11 of the Administration of the Judiciary Act of 2020, I am writing to immediately call for the entire file and all other applications arising thereunder for our perusal as a matter of urgency,” Justice Aweri’s letter read in parts.

    However, when the matter came up for further hearing, Sim Katende, the lawyer who was in the middle of the entire transaction asked for an adjournment citing Justice Aweri’s letter and noting that their matter is under investigation that is why they cannot proceed which Justice Mubiru rubbished.

    A bitter exchange of words ensued between Justice Mubiru and counsel Katende who threatened to drag the latter to the law council and petition the American Law Council where Katende is a member over his unprofessional and undermining character.

    Katende openly told Justice Mubiru that he is too late to do so because he cannot keep quiet when Courts are doing illegalities.

    In his remarks on Justice Aweri’s letter, Justice Mubiru stated,” If I am to adjourn a case because of an administrative letter, what will I be doing?”

    He insisted that he will not be bound by Justice Aweri’s letter and promised to proceed with the matter to its conclusion.

    Kamya petitioned president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni over the fraudulent sell of his properties and the president directed the Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka and Bank of Uganda to investigate the matter.

    It was established that his properties were legally sold and he was advised to contest the transaction in Courts of law.

     

    By Sengooba Alirabaki

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