By Ruth Anderah
Supreme Court has ordered the Bank of Uganda to pay costs to businessman Sudhir Ruparelia, the former owner of Crane Bank Ltd.
Five justices of the Court led by Rubby Opio Aweri have unanimously ruled that since the Bank of Uganda chose to withdraw its appeal, it meant that the earlier orders of the two lower courts which dismissed the case with costs still stand.
The justices have further ordered that since Crane Bank receivership ended in 2018, Crane Bank Ltd as a company now returns to Sudhir and his other co-shareholders.
The ruling now ends the 5 year battle between Sudhir Ruparella, his company Meera investment Ltd, his former Bank; Crane Bank Ltd, and Bank of Uganda.
The dispute arose in 2017 when the Bank of Uganda accused Sudhir and Meera Investments of siphoning over Shs397 billion from his former Crane Bank.
However, commercial court judge David Wangututsi dismissed the case with costs on grounds that he found no misconduct on the side of Sudhir to warrant prosecution; a position that was also maintained by the Court of Appeal in 2020.
The Central Bank was dissatisfied by the decision and hence lodged an appeal in the Supreme court to have it overturned but along the way, the Bank lost interest in prosecuting the appeal prompting to file a notice of withdrawal but arguing that costs should be paid by Crane Bank.
However, this did not settle well with Sudhir who insisted Bank of Uganda should pay their costs because Crane Bank exists no more having had its assets sold to DFCU bank in 2016.
Sudhir further argued that all along from the commercial court in January 2017, it has been Bank of Uganda suing on behalf of Crane bank and there is no way Bank of Uganda can now throw away the burden of costs to a non-existent entity that is incapable of instituting legal proceedings.