Mbabazi Moves To Block Crane Bank Sale
By Serestino Tusingwire
Former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and other shareholders in the obsolete National Bank of Commerce (NBC) have petitioned the Constitutional Court to block the sale of Crane Bank.
It should be remembered that NBC, whose shareholders included Premier Ruhakana Rugunda, businessman Amos Nzeyi, and Amama Mbabazi was taken over by Bank of Uganda four years ago before its management and assets were handed over to Crane Bank.
Fascinatingly, Crane Bank’s administration was equally taken over by the Central Bank in October on grounds that it was a “significantly undercapitalized institution as defined by law.”
Following the crane bank takeover, the Central Bank said new investors were welcome to invest in Crane Bank.
It’s from this point that the NBC shareholders want their petition challenging the transfer of the financial institution’s assets to Crane Bank four years ago determined and disposed off before tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia’s bank is sold.
Mbabazi’s lawyers Severino Twinobusinye and John Mary Mugisha have since asked the Constitutional Court to expedite the hearing of the case that has been dragging on for long.
“Reference is made to the applications and petition which were filed way back on the 28TH September 2012, but have not been heard for more than four years now. As if the above is not enough the main petition has never heard let alone being determined by this court,” said Severino in a letter dated November 4 to the Constitutional Court registrar.
Severino said an unlawful transfer of NBC assets infringes NBC shareholders’ fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution.
NBC lawyers have gone ahead to announce a caveat emptor in the newspapers: “The above matter is subjudice ipso facto the purported intended sale of the said Crane Bank Ltd is therefore null and void and any person or group of persons or company which purports to buy the said Crane Bank Ltd before the Constitutional Court of Uganda disposes of the above cases or without the express consent and/or authority of the shareholders of NBC does so at his/her own risk and peril.”
In September 2012 Bank of Uganda liquidated National Bank of Commerce on grounds that its continued operations were detrimental to the interests of its depositors.
One month later, the Central Bank issued letters terminating services of all the employees of National Bank of Commerce.