Story behind Senana-Standard Chartered Bank property dispute

Wednesday July 10 2019

Seeking to sell. One of the properties on

Seeking to sell. One of the properties on Buganda Road owned by Senana Investments that Standard Chartered is seeking to sell to recover Shs34b. FILE PHOTO  

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Kampala. On July 1, Sebalu & Lule Advocates, acting on behalf of Standard Chartered Bank, wrote to Ms Frida Nabirongo, one of the Senana Investments Limited directors.
In a one-page notice, Ms Nabirongo and other Senana directors, were notified of an intended foreclosure on three properties under a mortgage deed.
The properties, among them developed plots of land in Makerere, Busega and Buganda Road, Kampala, the letter noted, would be possessed by Standard Chartered Bank within five working days if Senana failed to fulfill its part of a loan obligation.
“Take notice that Standard Chartered Bank ... shall within five working days ... proceed to exercise the mortgagee’s power to take possession of the mortgaged properties …. For avoidance of doubt this notice period shall elapse on July 8 2019,” the notice reads in part.
Indeed after the expiry of the five days on Monday, the three properties were advertised for auction by Century Associates.
In the notice, other Senana directors including Ms Nabirongo, Ms Susan Nanyombi, Margaret Tusubira, Willy Semyaalo, Allan Wanyama, Derick Ssekwe, Joshua Kayanja and Fred Serukenya, were notified of the foreclosure resulting from failure to clear the debt under dispute.

Cause of the dispute
At the heart of the matter is a Shs34b consolidated loan, which according to documents, was advanced to Senana between 2015 and 2017.
According to documents before court, Senana sued Standard Chartered on October 16, 2016 challenging the manner in which the bank had moved to attach properties against which the loan had been advanced.
In the suit, Senana, acting through Kavuma Kabenge & Company Advocates, claimed that Standard Chartered had illegally moved onto its properties, arguing that the “plaintiff had duly serviced the loan by paying installments thereof”.
“The plaintiff [Senana] contends that the statements given in the demand notice contains sums that are manipulated unauthorised and unlawful [thereby] rendering them false as they do not rightly state the amounts and unduly exaggerate the plaintiff’s indebtedness if any,” the documents read, noting that Senana paid back all the amount of money Standard Chartered advanced to it.
However, in its defense filed on November 2, 2018 through Sebalu Lule Advocates, Standard Chartered Bank maintains that Senana neglected to pay its part of the loan despite several reminders in that regard.
In documents before court, Standard Chartered Bank says: “The plaintiff [Senana] has never serviced the loan in accordance with the facility letters,” noting that the bank rightfully served Senana with a notice of default which was also neglected.
Standard Chartered also asked court to dismiss the case with costs.
In a telephone interview yesterday Ms Nabirongo told Daily Monitor that they were in talks with Standard Chartered before declining to divulge any further information about the matter.
Contacted to understand progress of the talks, Ms Cynthia Mpanga, the Standard Chartered Bank corporate affairs, brand and marketing manager, said in an email exchange: “Please be advised that we are not at liberty to discuss any matters relating to our clients as they are confidential. Please note that Standard Chartered Bank operates within regulatory requirements.”
In the suit, Senana also makes a number of demands key among them refunding monies withheld by Standard Chartered upon offsetting outstanding mortgage liabilities, directing the bank to receive only money found to be rightfully due and ordering Standard Chartered to release title deeds it is holding.
Senana also wants court to force Standard Chartered to pay the cost of suit and any further relief that it might deem fit.