Commercial Court Judge Justice David Wangutusi has set 14 November 2017 to deliver a ruling on the application filed in court where tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia objects to former Crane Bank lawyers Timothy Masembe Kanyerezi from MMAKS Advocates and David Mpanga from FK Mpanga and Company Advocates, representing Bank of Uganda in the main suit against him and Meera investments.
Sudhir argues that the two counsels previously represented Crane Bank which was then under him, and should be dismissed on the grounds conflict of interest.
Sudhir contends the lawyers advised the board and management on a daily basis since 2005.
“During the course of this intense advocate-client relationship, the board shared with MMAKS Advocates all matters pertaining to the management, shareholding and business of Crane Bank,” said Sudhir.
The businessman says during this time, “we as board members believed that MMAKS Advocates as our advisors were in fiduciary relationship with us and had an ethical duty of fidelity, loyalty and confidentiality and by accepting and prosecuting instructions of Bank of Uganda, MMAKS Advocates is in breach of its fiduciary obligations to me.”
Sudhir now wants court to direct that the lawyers be listed as his witnesses in the case.
He says that the two know all the secrets of the company they are working against and that letting them represent the Central Bank will prejudice the case.
Through his lawyers of Kampala Associated Advocates, Sudhir told court that on several occasions, companies in which he was a shareholder gave instructions to MMAKs Advocates and sought legal assistance from them.”
One of the tycoon’s lawyers Bruce Musinguzi went on to ask court to put into consideration a confession where counsels from MMAKS advocates admitted to getting instructed to look into the shareholding of Crane Bank as well as holding various trainings for Crane Bank Directors.
Rather than Central Bank and Crane Bank lawyers, Sudhir wants lawyers Mpanga and Masembe to appear in this case as witnesses because they know more about the operations of Crane Bank.
In reply to these submissions, Counsel Masembe from MMAKS argued that his firm never represented Sudhir as an individual but his companies.
He added that Sudhir’s claims that MMAKS acted on his behalf while purchasing plots in Kawempe has nothing to do with this case which entails extraction of huge sums of money from Crane Bank.
“We the lawyers are independent people; we are not mouthpieces of our clients,” he stressed.
Counsel David Mpanga on the other hand, asked Justice Wangutusi to maintain them as Crane Bank lawyers saying that there is no evidence adduced by Sudhir to show that they have in any way breached their professional code of conduct; having not even come across any information regarding the current case in which Bank of Uganda accuses Sudhir of fraudulently siphoning $400m from his now defunct Crane Bank.
Justice Wangutusi before setting the ruling date, called upon the parties in this matter to embrace mediation before his ruling.
“You settle the matter before November so that you can maintain the relationship you have been having” the judge advised.
Other parties to his case like businessman Amos Nzeyi the founder of now defunct National Bank of Commerce welcomed Justice Wangutusi’s advice for parties to embrace mediation, saying he may get relief for his 5-year grievance ever since his bank was ‘fraudulently’ sold by Bank of Uganda.