By Lawrence Kazooba

A cartel of powerful political and economic hit-men is hiding behind the forensic investigation of the defunct Crane Bank to fight President Museveni and Sudhir Ruparelia.

Waiting to make a killing from the woes of the defunct bank, the cartel are fronting a bill of Sh400 billion as having got lost from the bank as Sudhir allegedly single-handedly orchestrated a raid on the third biggest bank, which was one his biggest business franchise in the country.

The group, who analysts call “mafia or economic hitmen”, have leaked a forensic report by a Bank of Uganda six months audit to New Vision newspaper, where they ran a series of front page stories.

To prove that the story is suspect, the editors of New Vision choose not to publish bylines of reporters and they do not quote anybody in Bank of Uganda, office of DPP, Police or Crane Bank.

The blind story which editors of the New Vision believe was important enough to be a lead story for three days, has left a bad taste for hundreds of their more discerning readers.

It is understood that since Crane Bank closure, President Museveni himself has led efforts to ensure depositors and all bank creditors did not suffer any losses. The president pushing for a sad but peaceful burial of the former third biggest bank insisted that Sudhir raises funds to ensure no one loses out in the closure, but Sudhir himself and the bank’s shareholders.

Watchdog Uganda understands that meetings attended by among others; the president, attorney general, the Bank of Uganda governor and director of public prosecutions, managed to convince Sudhir that in the interest of fairness, he should avail money to fill the hole audit reports found in the bank’s deposits, which the businessman agreed to do.

A cartel working to fail Museveni’s efforts to the restitution of the weak economy were however not happy with the deal, and have gone for two purpose mission; embarrass Mr Museveni and Sudhir, while aiming to a killing from the settlement.

Using the New Vision, owing to the fact that it might buy some credibility for the story before the unsuspecting public, a series of stories were run in the newspaper.

However, stories have enraged the public who cannot believe that amount of fraud could be executed by a single individual over a long period of time without detection.

The public is angered with the reports, citing sloppiness on the side of Bank of Uganda or possible witch-hunt by government, which analysts say to benefits the mafia since the blame would done on Museveni as the mafia hid behind the curtain.

Analysts conclude charges are misplaced

Former president’s spokesman Tamale Mirundi asked on his show on NBS television on Tuesday, “where was the bank’s supervision department” when Sudhir was making all these alleged violations? NBS video can be viewed on https://youtu.be/ABN2het4vx4

“Where was the whistle-blower?” Tamale who says himself has been humiliated by the mafia forgetting he had offered “committed service to the president”, asked.

Mirundi who has made a media career diagnosing how a cartel of people orchestrating criminality behind curtains were failing government and the president, who he calls “mafia” says confidently that it is mafia behind Sudhir’s predicament and feared they want to bring the man down and blackmail his former master, Museveni.

“If you want to destroy Sudhir, remember the time you were with him. Unfortunately, mafia has no friends,” Mirundi weighed in.

In the editorial by Daily Monitor on Wednesday, the independent newspaper points a long finger on Bank of Uganda, putting it that “BoU let down Uganda on defunct Crane Bank”.

“We are startled by the systematic institutional failure that midwifed Crane Bank’s collapse. How could the Central Bank have failed over half-a-decade to spot pervasive perfidy at Crane Bank then headquartered literally across the road from its own head office?,” the newspaper asked.

On Tuesday, a social critic, Frank Gashumba also weighed in, “we all know Sudhir is one of the directors of crane bank but all my friends who i have talked to, who borrowed money from crane bank say there were systems in place. you did not need sudhir to secure a loan from crane bank. What the public is interested in knowing is why doesn’t BoU mention the management staff or the other board member?”

Gashumba concluded, “if all this is true, then this is the biggest cover-up in the banking history of Uganda and BoU particularly the governor and the director supervision must have been involved. In developed countries, BoU’s role should have been involved already.

What surprises everyone though, is other than BoU and its external lawyers, no one is complaining.

Nevertheless, these top BoU officials must resign within the next 30 days or we are going to petition court to halt this scandal.

Is there a cartel fighting Sudhir or it’s another day for BoU external lawyers to eat money? When you closed the bank, do not think Sudhir as a person was more affected as Ugandans who worked there.”

BOU Report for 2014 said;

Bank of Uganda in pursuit of its statutory mandate of ensuring a safe and sound financial system through on-site and offsite surveillance of Supervised Financial Institutions (SFIs) found out that.
During 2014, BOU conducted on-site examinations of all the licensed commercial banks and found all banks “except one which was closed during the year, were adequately capitalized. The sector achieved a recovery in loan quality, from the high level of non-performing loans that followed the economic downturn in 2011 / 2012, as reflected by the improvement in the ratio of non-performing loans to total loans from 5.6 percent in December 2013 to 4.1 percent in December 2014. The banking sector posted credit growth of 14 percent during 2014, which augmented the sector’s profitability.”