Bank of Uganda yesterday served Sudhir Ruparelia with court summons almost 20 days after the bank sued the businessman on June 30 for allegedly spiriting away Shs 300bn from Crane Bank.
The Observer understands that Sudhir lawyers were served yesterday by Bank of Uganda’s legal team at around 11am though the summons were issued by the Commercial court registrar on July 3.
The BOU team served Peter Kabatsi, a senior partner with KAA, the lawyers of Sudhir. If Sudhir had formally received the summons and the plaint earlier, he would have been required to file his defence at the Commercial court by latest July 19, 2017. Now Sudhir has 14 days from today to file his defence.
Serving is an essential step in commencing a civil lawsuit.
Uganda’s civil procedure rules provide that service of summons has to be effected within 21 days from the date of issue; though the time may be extended on application to court, made within 15 days after the expiration of the twenty-one days, showing sufficient reasons for the extension.
Asked why they delayed serving Sudhir, one lawyer contracted by Bank of Uganda to handle the case said, “We are discussing the matter.” He declined to be named.
The Observer understands that despite the delay in serving Sudhir, he had already assembled a legal team to work on the case. Sudhir’s lawyers, The Observer learnt, had used their own channels to get Bank of Uganda’s plaint plus the mediation summary, but couldn’t get the annexures where the details of the allegations are.
“The real case can only be found in the annexures,” a source told The Observer.
“It’s very hard to come up with a credible defence without them [annexures].”
The delay by Bank of Uganda to serve Sudhir had been interpreted by his lawyers as a tactic to corner him into capitulation before the case starts.
“It’s very clear now that for them they have put out their side of the story in which our client is being maligned but we cannot put up a defence since we have not been served. We don’t understand their intentions,” one of Sudhir’s lawyer said.
In its case before Justice David Wangutusi, the head of the Commercial court, BOU is seeking to recover $93.8 million (Shs 337.6bn) and Shs 60.3bn from former Crane bank proprietor Sudhir Ruparelia and his real estate company Meera Investments.
“The Bank of Uganda as a receiver of Crane Bank Limited and regulator of the banking sector sanctioned the filing of a suit against Sudhir Ruparelia and Meera Investments Limited to re coup funds that were fraudulently extracted from, as well as losses that were caused to Crane bank,” said BOU in its statement last Friday.
The central bank argues in court documents that Ruparelia used several companies to transfer money from the bank. The bank also found that Sudhir owned almost 100 per cent of the bank, contrary to local regulations that require no single individual to wholly own a financial institution.