High Court in Kampala presided over by Judge Anna B. Mugyenyi has ordered a city businessman Abu Mukasa and his business associates to refund $41,472,820 (about Shs155b) to Ashafi Investments Group after it ruled that the businessman and his cohorts issued bounced cheques to the company.
In her ruling, Justice Mugyenyi of the Commercial Division of the High Court, ruled that the defendant did not adduce any evidence to prove that he had delivered the certificates of title in respect of the lease agreements to the plaintiff.
Court also ruled that neither did Abu Mukasa prove that he had repaid/refunded any sums of money paid by the plaintiff in that regard to date.
“All in all, I find that the plaintiff has proved its case on the balance of probabilities and that the plaintiff is entitled to payment of AED 149,302,152 (UAE dirham) as claimed. The Court is of the considered opinion that it is unjust for the plaintiff to walk away empty handed having made such colossal payments for leases that it did not receive,” Justice Mugyenyi ruled.
She added that; “I agree with the submissions of counsel for the plaintiff that the defendant raised issues of fraud by the plaintiff in his pleadings but neither did he particularize them nor prove them as required by law. The said allegations cannot be relied on to conclude that the plaintiff carried out the fraudulent acts as alleged.”
“Having held as I have above, the plaintiff is awarded the sum of AED 149, 302, 152” reads Justice Mugyenyi’s ruling.
Justice Mugyenyi further ruled that the contention that the cheque in issue was intended to cover up the plaintiff’s financial condition is a weak attempt at escaping liability for the plaintiff’s claim.
“In any case, the testimony of DW1 in respect of the alleged poor financial condition of the plaintiff and its inability to obtain loans due to an alleged bad balance sheet that required window dressing was not corroborated by concrete evidence and cannot be relied on,” says the ruling.
The Shs155 billion case is probably the biggest commercial case involving Ugandan businessmen and investors.
Upon the rulling, Ashanti Investment intends to auction some of the properties of the Ugandan businessmen who were involved in the ‘fraud’. It is understood that Mr. Mukasa and others lured the Abu Dhabi based investors to invest here but upon the channelling of money to here, it was diverted into other personal interests of Ugandan businessmen. some of these include land which is now being targeted for sale.
“The reasons are quite straight forward. The Respondent issued to the Applicant a cheque drawn upon the Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank payable on presentation.
The issue that it was postdated could not be, and would not ordinarily be discernible on the face of the cheques as far as banking business is concerned. In the due course the cheque was presented for payment at the said bank and it was dishonored due to insufficient funds in the account.
The Respondent was found guilty of the offence, the Respondent filed a civil case and all through the Abu Dhabi court system up to the Court of Appeal, his consistent case was that he issued the cheque without intending it to be cashed, but only as a security deposit cheque. The Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal agreed with his claim”
Abu Mukasa and others argued in the Abu Dhabi case that the effect of the above finding is that the judgment of the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal in the matter sustains a claim founded on a breach of law in force in Uganda. On that account, being a foreign judgment, it shall not be conclusive pursuant to Section 9(f) CPA which provides that;
Abu Mukasa was the only Ugandan official shareholder in Orange Telecom that eventually was bought.
Mukasa is said to own over 40 sq miles of land along Lake Victoria shores. Net worth estimate is $20m.