Several local investors who have accounts with Equity Bank are crying foul over the bank’s Executive Director one Anthony Kituuka, who they say is operating in a very unethical manner that portrays him as a banker who is more interested in enriching himself and protecting the interests of foreign investors only, instead of building the country’s economy and looking out for the local customer/investor.
This arises at a time when several local customers and investors are losing their money and properties they have staked with Equity Bank. Property that has been staked with the bank as collateral is being grabbed using underhand methods and bogus auctions that usually don’t allow the borrower an opportunity to get the best value for their properties.
Many of the affected local investors contend that whereas Kituuka is employed by a foreign bank, but as a local executive and patriotic Ugandan are expected to always intervene whenever local players and investors are being mistreated or extorted of their money and property, he instead acts with all intent to the detriment of the local player, in a bid to enrich himself and appease his Kenyan bosses.
However, just like Equity Bank Uganda, its mother Bank in Kenya is bedevilled with a litany of sins that include bank executives siphoning billions of Kenyan shillings from customers’ accounts, seizing clients’ properties after inflating loan balances, among others.
In the case of Uganda, Equity Bank has come under the spotlight after several of its executives being accused of conniving with moneylenders and mafia to buy distressed properties from borrowers at the money that is way below the reserve price of such properties.
An auction is a public sale of the property to the highest bidder by one licensed and authorized to do so and the goal is to obtain the best financial return for the seller by free and fair competition among bidders.
A case in point is city architect Peter Kamya of Simbamanyo Estates, whose properties including the multibillion Simbamanyo House in the city centre and Afrique Suites Hotel in Mutungo suburb of Kampala which was sold for a pittance to Sudhir Ruparelia’s Meera Investments Limited and Ronald Luwanmgula’s Luwaluwa Investments Ltd respectively, using underhand methods.
Equity Bank Uganda, under the leadership of Kituuka and others callously grabbed Kamya’s properties and purportedly auctioned them to Sudhir and Luwangula not only under a dubious auction that is still a matter of dispute in court but also sold the same at peanuts compared to what they were worth. Had the bank given him an opportunity to get involved in the transaction, as the borrower, this would have ended up in a win-win situation.
However, because of greed the top dogs at Equity and their cronies, together with Sudhir and Luwangula, colluded to grab Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites hotel and they are now plotting to grab more properties from Kamya claiming to still be recovering the loan facility he secured from the bank until it is offset, yet the value of properties they have grabbed so far is far in excess of the purported loan balance. The two properties combined have a market value of over US$25m and a combined reserve price of at least US$ 14m
This was highly irregular and contrary to the rules and regulations that govern auctions. There was even no reserve price. The said auction never actually took place, contrary to claims by Equity Bank. This is what led to the departure in protest, of the two legal managers of Equity Bank, in succession i.e. one Edward Ocen and A Kiwalabye Kimanje because they did not want to continue being part of these underhand activities the bank was engaging in.
Besides Kamya, there are several other local players who have fallen prey to the endless iniquities being perpetrated upon them by officials at Equity Bank, which include money disappearing from their accounts mysteriously stealing Money from Clients Accounts.
It should be noted officials at Kituuka’s Equity Bank not only stop at grabbing clients’ properties in a mafia-style but also have the habit of stealing deposits from clients’ accounts without giving credible explanations.
This is a very unethical banking practice, which is being perpetrated under Kituuka’s watch and has affected several clients, among them Edith Nakacwa whose money Shs21 million was withdrawn from her account through e-banking (easy funds transfer) without her knowledge or consent.
Nakacwa says the electronic fraudulent transaction was executed on her account number 1044101283389, which she opened in 2019, and in April 2021 and when she raised the complaint with police and threatened to sue Equity Bank, officials at the bank admitted the fraud and promised to refund her savings.
However, it is five months now down the road and Nakachwa is still complaining because she has not received her money yet or communication from the bank about how such an anomaly happened, which leaves a lot unanswered about the integrity of Kituuka and other officials at Equity Bank.
Instead of at least apologizing to their client for the fraud that was perpetrated by their officials, Kituuka’s Equity Bank decided to blast Nakachwa, by shamelessly accusing her of attempting to ‘taint’ the bank’s image by exposing the fraud in the media. She suspects the fraudsters collaborated with bank staff to sweep her account clean, the funds were meant to facilitate her start-up business which has since collapsed.
Months after Nakacwa raised her complaint against Equity Bank, 11 other customers have also accused Equity Bank Uganda of being unresponsive after their money went missing from their accounts.
When our Moles contacted Mr Philip Otim, the Marketing and Communication Manager of Equity Bank, he said that the matter is being handled at the managerial level and would issue a statement thereafter To date the statement has not come out.