While embattled Sudhir Ruparelia has become the face of huge financial misappropriations, scores of other rich men – his longtime friends like Patrick Bitature, also owe millions of dollars to the new owners of Sudhir’s former cash cow, Crane Bank Ltd.
It is understood that Bitature, the controversial tycoon behind Simba Group and Protea Hotels among other investments has been singled out as one of the biggest loan defaulters of the new look DFCU Bank that is re-evaluating some loan agreements because some of the loans may now turn toxic.
Last month before Sudhir finally lost his bank to DFCU, Bitature had allegedly failed to clear his loans and when Crane Bank tried to attach his buildings, he ran as fast as he could to the Indian-Ugandan businessman begging him to prevail over his lawyers to give him more time to pay.
It has now been revealed that Mr Juma Kisaame, DFCU Bank Managing Director has vowed not to “take any of that ‘Sudhir- Bitature nonsense’ and this month alone he has served Mr. Bitature with several demand notices over the Shs150 billion debts to the old Crane bank that piled up from mid 2016.
READ ON: Sudhir Ruparelia, daughter, ex-Crane Bank bosses to be jailed According to a source privy to the transaction, Bitature has failed to pay back the loan obtained on June 14, 2016 through his firm known as White Nile Consults Ltd. The businessman used the multibillion loan to construct an oil plant in Hohwa Village, Kaseeta Parish, Kabwoya Sub county, Hoima District to engage in treatment, handling, storage, transportation and disposal of oil and gas.
A desperate Bitature is reported to have staked all his top properties and family (wife, Carol and daughter Natalie) stood as guarantors to payback the loan with interest of 12% or Ushs12 billion while the US dollar exchange rate was fixed at 10% or $3.6 million.
It is understood that at the peak of this, DFCU is set to attach Bitature’s securities; Kyandondo Block 244 Plot 3317 land in affluent Kisugu, Kyadondo Block 244 Plot 3318 also in Kisugu, Plot 17 Kyadondo Road, Plot 1A, Bill Road Kyadondo County, Plot 90, 92, Lake Drive Luzira, Plot No.32 Hill Lane, Kampala and Block 2 Plot 134 at Kaseeta, Buhanguzi, Hoima District. Also to be taken over by DFCU is Bitature’s signature firm Simba Telecom Limited that has several branches in Kampala and other top towns of Uganda, his Luzira Marina Limited and Chapter Eleven Limited.
However, an insider intimates that the concern is that the few properties of Bitature that DFCU Bank are looking to attach have been found to have been over- valued and most of them mere air.
Neither Bitature nor Dfcu’s Juma Kisaame were available for a comment.
The sour bank loans do not just pose a risk to economic recovery. As revelations of their scale and size become public for the first time, the unpaid debt of loaded people like Bitature have triggered angry allegations of banks going easy on well-connected businessmen, and questions about why taxpayer money is being used to prop up struggling state-connected banks.
Pressure is growing on government to ensure that Dfcu that was majorly made of SACCOs of different government ministries and agencies is not exposed to the toxic loans from Crane Bank.