Coupled with a volatile business environment, 2018 has not been a good year for many business people.
It has been a hard paper with some business personalities either losing their properties to banks or are fighting in courts to save them.
According to details at the Commercial Court, more than Shs900b worth of property is under dispute with banks seeking to take over such properties over failure to repay loans advanced against them.
Key among the disputes involved successful businessmen such as Habib Kagimu with interests on oil, real estate and telecommunications, among others.
Also in the shackles of debt is Mukesh Shukla of Shumuk, whose troubles over some key properties, in
and outside Kampala, with the late Bony Katatumba date as far as 2014.
In there, Shukla finds himself in disputes with dfcu Bank and Guarantee Trust Bank both of which have this year shown interest in repossessing some of his or properties under Shumuk to recover loans advanced to him.
Another interesting addition is Alexander Okello of Okello House and formerly Amamu House, which currently houses Uganda Registration Services Bureau offices.
In 2014, Okello lost Amamu House to Barclays Bank over a loan dispute and could soon lose Okello House, which houses some operations of State House, to Standard Chartered Bank over a Shs25.5b loan dispute.
Okello claims he had acquired the loan to help start Pioneer Easy Bus but his “co-directors” backed-tracked on some key agreements, before forcing him out.
Pioneer, which he says he helped to start using the loan, itself has had a lot of troubles since it started operations in Uganda. Apart from failure to secure lanes within and outside Kampala, the bus services were in 2013 grounded by URA over failure to clear Shs.2b in taxes.
Also, Okello says, the continued failure by State House to pay him for about a year, made it impossible for him to mobilise money to service the loan.
However, State House in May told Daily Monitor that they had not been paying Okello because the property had two entities (people) claiming ownership.
Lucy Nakyobe, the State House comptroller, said then that they had decided to hold on to the payments for at least seven months because both Standard Chartered Bank and Okello were claiming ownership of the building.
State House pays $33,684 (Shs124.6m) annually as rental fees.
Below, we review some of the most outstanding property wrangles that are yet to be resolved.
Habibi Kagimu, oil telecommunications
He was one of Uganda’s most important allies to Libya during the reign of former strongman Maummar Gaddafi.
He is an astute businessman with interest in oil, real estate, telecommunications (Utl), security and agriculture managed under Habib Investments as the holding company.
In January, Forbes listed Kagimu as one of Uganda richest businessmen with much of his wealth accumulated through petroleum distribution.
However, for the better part of 2018, he was consumed by a property raw over a Shs9.7b Standard Chartered Bank loan.
Acording to email correspondences seen by Daily Monitor, Standard Chartered advanced Kagimu Shs9.75b ($2.6m) but he had continuously defaulted on repayment, which forced the bank to move in on one of his collaterals including a residential house in Kololo and others in Bugolobi and Sir Apollo Kagwa Road.
However, Kagimu, through his lawyer, Fred Muwema, disputed the figure, saying they were only aware of Shs7.5b ($2m).
In a public notice published in June, the bank, acting through Kampala Associated Advocates, said they would sell Kagimu’s properties unless the debt was fully settled.
This had been the second time the properties had been advertised in less than three months.
The dispute, according to Muwema, is still in court and yet to be disposed of.
“There are disputes on the amount of interest charged and some figures on the statement which can’t be explained,” he said. Standard Chartered Bank declined to comment, saying the “matter is subject to ongoing litigation”.
Kagimu has since placed a caveat on the properties under dispute pending an audit into the loan amount.
Mukesh Shukla of Shumuk
Renowned Kampala businessman Mukesh Shukla of Shumuk Investments has this year spent more time in courts than the boardroom.
He is been fighting to save his properties, some of which were recently put on sale by banks.
His troubles were more pronounced early this year when seven of his prime properties were put on sale over failure to pay a dfcu Bank loan estimated to be in the excess of Shs10b.
The seven properties, included two storied residential units in Buye, Ntinda, three warehouse units in Banda, Kampala, an office block in Ntinda, Kampala and an undeveloped piece of land in Ntinda.
Dfcu Bank, according to Isaac Mpanga, a legal representative from MMAKS Advocates, had explored all options to recover the money but in vain.
“Shumuk has failed to pay [the debt] despite several reminders and going through all the usual procedures for the last nine months,” he said.
However, Shukla, the Shumuk Investments director, argued then that the cost had been inflated. However, he could not give Daily Monitor the exact figure.
The sale has since been stopped after Shukla filed a case asking court to intervene.
Beyond this, the Boney Katatumba (RIP) - Shumuk property wrangle, came back to haunt after Shukla was harvested in late November and thrown into jail.
Shukla, it is claimed, had forged Chief Justice Bart Katurebe’s signature to take over the estate of deceased Boney Katatumba.
He was arrested and detained overnight at Jinja Road Police Station before he was released on a police bond.
A case of forgery and uttering false documents, which is awaiting disposal, was later instituted at Buganda Road Court.
Shumuk deals in a number of businesses including hospitality, manufacturing and real estate, among others.
Alexander Okello of Okello House
Owned by businessman Alexander Okello, Okello House, was in May a source of dispute pitting Moyo Hardware, the holding company and Standard Chartered Bank.
The bank, through Sebalu & Lule Advocates, put the property on sale over an unpaid Sh25.5b loan borrowed on behalf of Pioneer Easy Bus.
The property, which houses some operations of State House, according to details in court, had been put as security for the loan.
In a public notice Standard Chartered Bank notified the public that the property would be sold unless the owner fully settled the debt.
According to Okello, he secured $7m (about Shs25.5b) to start Pioneer Easy Bus on the understanding that he would have full control of the bus operators’ finances and the company would make five of his children directors.
“I staked my property [Okello House] to secure $7m on the understanding that [Pioneer Easy Bus would] make five of my children directors in addition to [me] having full control of the company’s accounts,” he said.
However, he said, the company back tracked on the agreement and severed the relationship which resulted into the dispute with the bank.
Okello also claimed that State House, the current tenants, had continuously defaulted on their rent payment, which had hindered his ability to service the loan.
However, Lucy Nakyobe, the State House comptroller, dismissed the claim, saying they only owed Okello rent arrears of an equivalent of seven months.
“We have been paying Okello $33,684 (Shs124.6m) annually and the only reason we have not released money this year is because we were not sure who, between Okello and Standard Chartered Bank, to pay since they all claim ownership of the building,” she said then.
In 2009 Okello had also lost another of his properties - Amamu House – to Barclays Bank, which was later sold to Stellah Properties.
View from an expert
According to Charles Ocici, a business advisor and executive director of Enterprise Uganda, in the current economic environment, which is characterised by volatilities, banks must do more scrutiny to understand loan applicants.
Banks, he says, should always measure the applicant’s level of integrity as well as analyzing their investment decisions.
This, he says, paints a proper picture of the loan applicant’s capacity to repay money advanced to them.
The bank, he says, must be able to measure whether the loan applicant has the capacity to make prompt and scheduled repayments.
However, Ocici says, loan applicants must also ensure that they stick to the terms of the loan without much policing.
For instance, he says, any person of good character, must exhibit their capacity to convert money advanced to them into a profitable business.
“Your own capital should be part of that project and this will make you committed to the project to make it profitable,” he says.
Some of the major cases filed in courts in 2018
Habib Oil Vs Stanchart Bank
Alexander Okello (Okello House) Vs Stanchart Bank
Shumuk Vs Dfcu Bank
Shumuk Vs Katatumba Family
Shumuk Vs Guaranty Trust Bank
Parambot Breweries Stanchart (Receivership)
Yunus Matovu /Drake Lubega Vs Charles Muhangi (Late)
Sudhir Ruparelia Vs BoU (Carried into 2018)
Godfrey Kirumira Vs Jack Pemba