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Equity Bank dragged to court over sale of Simbamanyo House

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Simbamanyo House

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By Our Reporter

The High Court on Tuesday heard a case involving the disputed sale of Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suits Mutungo by Equity Bank.

City architect Peter Kamya, who owns Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites, through his lawyers of Muwema & Co. Advocates, accuses Equity Bank of allegedly colluding with other people, among them Sudhir and Luwangula, of selling his properties to Meera Investments and Luwaluwa Investments respectively, after flouting all standard procedures like getting a valuer, making the auction public, notifying the property owner of the intended sale, notifying him before removing the caveats he had put on the suit property, among others.

Kamya thus sued Equity Bank, Meera Investments, Luwaluwa Investments and the Uganda Land Commission for allegedly colluding to grab his property, under the cover up that he had failed to service a contested loan of USD10.5M with Equity Bank.

However, while appearing before Her worship Lillian Bucyana of the High Court Commercial Division on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, the defence team, which included Equity Bank lawyers, Catherine Luwangula for Luwaluwa Investments, plus lawyers from the Uganda Land Commission, failed to produce evidence indicating the purported sale.

It should be noted that Meera Investments allegedly bought Simbamanyo House at Shs18.5Bn after it was auctioned by Equity Bank on October 8th, 2020 and on the same date also sold Afrique Suites Hotel, claiming that the property owner had mortgaged them for USD8.1M loan which he had however failed to service.

However, the selling of Simbamanyo House and Afrique Suites came at a time when Kamya had filed a case disputing the loan that Equity Bank Uganda, Equity Bank Kenya and Bank One, a Mauritian bank had extended to him.

Kamya, who also disputed the demands by the bank that he either pays 30% of the outstanding bank loan or forfeits ownership of his properties had put caveats on both properties, but was shocked to learn through the media that the Land Commission had removed the caveats and that Meera Investments Limited had bought Simbamanyo House, while Luwaluwa had bought Afrique Suites after they were auctioned by Equity Bank.

However, when asked by court on Wednesday to produce purchase agreements that were signed between either Meera Investments and Equity Bank or Luwaluwa Investments and Equity Bank and how much each of the companies bought the properties, none of them could produce the documents.

Asked to produce documents indicating whether they hired a government valuer to estimate the value of either Simbamanyo House or Afrique Suites Hotel before selling them the Equity Banks lawyers could only come up with excuses.

In his suit before the High Court, Kamya hopes for a declaration that Equity Bank’s acts of selling and disposing of his properties was in the circumstances, in violation of his right to redeem the mortgages issued under the impugned credit facility and that the concurrent transfer within 15 minutes of the same properties vide an alleged auction, were all procured by dishonest conduct, fraud and illegal.

He also asks court for orders that Equity Bank sold the suit property at an under value and a further order to render an account of the impugned sale proceeds and pay any monies found to be due on account or any monies covering the difference between the sale price and market value of the suit properties.

The aggrieved businessman further pleads for a court declaration that Equity Bank’s conduct in selling and disposing of the suit properties was in breach of the Bank of Uganda Financial Consumer Protection Guidelines, 2011 and that an act of purporting to sell and transfer the suit properties and businesses undermined and was in contempt of the Court proceedings in High Court Civil Suit No.198

He also wants court to declare that the removal by the Land Commission of the caveats lodged on the suit properties on the 8 October, 2020 without notice to him was procedurally irregular and illegal.

Kamya further prays for an order for payment of aggravated damages for the high handed and spiteful conduct of the Bank and the property buyers; general damages for the material distress embarrassment and inconvenience caused and payment of interest at 20% per annum on any pecuniary award from the 8th October, 2020 till payment in full and costs of the suit.

Following the defence team’s failure to produce the required documents in court, Her Worship the Registrar ruled that the defendants should produce the relevant sales agreements, and adjourned the case till December 16th, 2020, when she will give her ruling on the case.

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