Equity Bank Suffers Major Blow In Case  Involving Fraudulent Sale Of Simbamanyo Properties To Sudhir, Luwangula

Equity Bank Suffers Major Blow In Case  Involving Fraudulent Sale Of Simbamanyo Properties To Sudhir, Luwangula

By Ivan Mwine
Executives at Equity Bank Uganda are having sleepless nights after the High Court Commercial Division dealt them a devastating blow in the case that Simbamanyo Estate filed against them, involving the illegal and fraudulent sale of their properties: Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites Hotel in an auction there never was.
This comes after the incorruptible Justice Stephen Mubiru, who heads the High Court Commercial Division, ordered Equity Bank to produce documents and correspondences between Sudhir Ruparelia, Equity Bank Managing Director Sam Kirubi and their lawyers Katende Sempeebwa and Co Advocates, Walusimbi and Co advocates, ahead of the purported auction of Simbamanyo House to Sudhir and Afrique Suites Hotel to Ronald Luwangula respectively.
In a bid to exhaust all the avenues of evidence and to seek justice in the matter, Simbamanyo in their application filed under Misc. Appl. No 0583 Of 2022, stated that they were privy to credible information indicating that there were four transactions that occurred on 1st October 2020 and 8th October 2020 respectively, on the Katende Sempeebwa’s dollar account with Equity Bank that are relevant to the determination of issues arising in the underlying suit.
In their application Simbamanyo further stated that there was correspondence between the bank, its lawyers and those of Meera Investments, the prospective purchasers, regarding a performance guarantee contract between Equity Bank and Meera Investments wherein the bank guaranteed to sell the said properties to Meera Investments in exchange for a bribe of 1million dollars which was to be refunded should the purchase not materialize within fifteen days.
And indeed, this money was paid into the bank’s lawyers account on the 1st of October 2020.
Evidence contained in the said transactions will demonstrate that the sale of the Simbamanyo properties was done under collusion between the bank, its lawyers and the purchasers to unfairly and unlawfully defeat the interests of the mortgagor, Simbamanyo.
Equity bank, LuwaLuwa and Katende Sempeebwa in their replies never denied being in possession of the said bank records.
The Simbamanyo lawyers argued that the documents will show the unlawful, fraudulent and illegal dealings that preceded the purported auction that never was.
They demonstrate that the outcome of the sale was manipulated in advance and what is purported to have been a public auction was just a sham.
In his ruling the Hon. Judge stated: Having examined the applicants’ pleadings in the suit and the defenses thereto, I find that an application calling  for inspection and taking certified copies of the dollar account statement for account number 1036200727349 operated by the 5th respondent with the 1st respondent bank, for the period 1st October, 2020 to 30th October, 2020; the inspection and taking certified copies of the dollar account statement for account number 1002201586895 operated by the 3rd respondent with the 1st respondent bank, for the period from 25th September, 2020 to 10th October, 2020 is sufficiently explicit to enable the court determine their relevance and materiality.
I find that the documents sought are consistent with the applicant’s case as pleaded in the underlying suit and that there is sufficient prima facie basis upon which the request may be granted without abuse of the inherent rights of the respondents.
Similarly, having further examined the applicants’ pleadings in the suit, I find that an application calling for discovery on oath of certified copies of email exchanges addressed to the 1st respondent’s Managing Director’s email address samuel.kirubi@equitybank.co.ug on the subject entitled “Performance Based Guarantee”  which related to the sale of the applicant’s properties as follows;
 (i) email from Sim Katende (sim@kats.co.ug) sent on Friday 25th September, 2020 at 2:09 pm sent/copied to Sim Katende (simkatende@yahoo.com; walusimbi@walusimbiadvocates.com; sudhir@ruparelia.com), and Samuel Kirubi (samuel.kirubi@equitybank.co.ug);
 (ii) Email from Walusimbi Nelson (walusimbi@walusimbiadvocates.com) sent/copied on Friday, 25th September, 2020 at 2:57pm to Sim Katende, sudhir@ruparelia.com, Samuel Kirubi and Gunn, as well as the executed copy of the “Performance Based Guarantee”   referred to in those email correspondences between the 1st respondent, the 2nd respondent and the 5th respondent, is sufficiently explicit to enable the court determine their relevance and materiality.
I find that the documents sought are consistent with the applicant’s case as pleaded in the underlying suit and that there is a sufficient prima facie basis upon which the request may be granted without abuse of the inherent rights of the respondents.
Both categories of information sought to be discovered are material and relevant to the extent that applicants intend to use their content to advance their already pleaded case, which is that the said transactions will demonstrate that the sale of the applicant’s mortgaged properties was done under a dishonest collusion between the bank, its lawyers and the purchaser to unfairly and unlawfully defeat the interests of the applicants.
The Hon. Judge went on further to observe in his ruling that the advocate – client privilege does not protect all manner of information and or communication between an advocate and his or her client; it only protects communications made in order to obtain legal advice and of a confidential nature.
Equity Bank was given 14 (fourteen) days within which to comply with the order.
It is not only shameful but unethical for the bank to have engaged in such illicit and fraudulent activities in breach of its fiduciary duty to its client.

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