Why Ssebalu &Lule Advocates Were Dumped From Meera Investments, DFCU Property Wrangle Case

Embattled DFCU bank has chased away conflicted Lawyers of Ssebalu & Lule advocates from representing them in a case in which Meera Investments seeks to recover its properties which were fraudulently handed over to DFCUby the bank of Uganda.

In a notice to High Court land division in Kampala, Ms Kalenge, Bwanika, Ssawa & Co Advocates says it has been instructed by respondents DFCU bank Limited and Commissioner land registration to represent them in the in place of Ssebalu & Lule advocates in the proceedings.

“We request that further correspondences, communications and /or court processes in connection there to be forwarded to us at the address indicated above “Writes Ms Kalenge, Bwanika, Ssawa & Co Advocates.

Dfcu Bank has been operating its business in buildings/properties belonging to Meera Investments Limited since it acquired CBL several years ago.

In August this year it emerged that the bank was misled by city Law firm Sebalu & Lule Advocates to illegally transfer title properties into its name yet the properties belong to Meera Investments Ltd even though it had leased them to Crane Bank Limited.

According to a leaked dossier, the Sebalu & Lule Advocates who have been barred by court from representing the same bank against city tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia for being conflicted.

The law firm misled DFCU Bank to transfer freehold titles from Crane Bank Ltd during the controversial takeover.

In the Asset Purchase Agreement between BoU and DFCU, BoU had 24 months to recover the said properties from Meera, but if the Central Bank failed to recover the properties within the stipulated 24 months, DFCU would rescind the purchase of the leasehold properties, return to BoU the certificates of title, duly re transferred into the names of CBL and deliver up to BoU vacant possession of the leased properties. BoU would in return refund a portion of the purchase price equivalent to the value of the properties.

The reason BoU made a two-year provision was because the matter was contentious and they were in the process of asking court to compel Meera Investments to hand over the titles of said properties to BoU.

BoU and Crane Bank (in receivership) in the meantime filed a case in the commercial court claiming that the 48 properties on which Crane Bank had their branch network originally belonged to Crane Bank but were transferred to Meera and subsequently leased to Crane Bank.

BoU asked court to order Sudhir’s Meera Investments to hand it the 48 freehold certificates together with duly executed transfer deeds in respect of each one of them in favour of Crane Bank.

It is on this basis that DFCU had preferred to place a caveat on the properties awaiting the outcome of the court process, but Sebalu & Lule advised them transfer the properties to DFCU names.

“Our opinion is that although the proposed approach of registering caveats provides DFCU with some level of legal protection, its indisputable title to the leasehold properties can only be guaranteed through registration of the transfers executed by BoU in favour of DFCU.”

The lawyers added that 24 months was a long time to wait for DFCU to resolve the ownership issues.

Sudhir contests transfer

Through his lawyers Kampala Associated Advocates, Sudhir went to the High Court’s Land Division suing both DFCU and the Commissioner for Land Registration challenging the transfer of his Meera Investments properties as an illegality, fraud, and tantamount to trespass.

Sudhir wants court to rule that Meera Investments is the registered proprietor of the properties and should have been consulted in any transfers of the land to DFCU. He reasons that since Meera was never consulted, the transactions were illegal and fraudulent.

Sudhir wants court to declare dfcu trespassers and prays that Meera be granted vacant possession of the properties on top of refunding  profits (profits of an estate received by a tenant in wrongful possession and recoverable by the landlord) with 20% interest as well as damages and costs of the suit.

Sudhir also argues that Crane Bank’s claim to Meera Investments properties is preposterous since a non-citizen is barred from acquiring mailo or freehold land by the Land Act. The argument is that Crane Bank could not have owned the properties as the majority shareholders were non-citizens.command

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