By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA, SHIFTMEDIA- Commercial Banks have an obligation to provide loans to clients to bolster their economic growth, but the harassment that comes with recovery of these loans is so distressing.
Scores of Ugandans have lost their hard earned properties to banks due to failure to pay the loans in time.
But what has come to the fore is the habit by some banks to “illegally” obtain, acquire or sell clients property with impunity for delayed payment of loans acquired.
On the spot is Equity Bank, it is not news how this bank has been in the news for selling clients property at giveaway prices due to loan defaulting.
The case we are exploring today is that of a distressed client who has gone through “hell” due to harassment imposed on him by court bailiffs working on instructions of Equity Bank. The victim, a city businessman Harrison Busingye stood in as a guarantor for his brother who acquired a loan from Equity Bank way back in 2018.
As a guarantor, the bank demanded that Busingye mortgages a title as security for the loan. His brother, Nathan Mwesigye took a loan of Ugx350m. The security that Busingye staked was that of a title of a residential apartment worth Ugx 4.5b located in an upscale Kampala suburb in Muyenga.
Quick forward, when the loan payment became slow, the Equity bank on top of selling off the trucks (worth shs250 million each) of the loan defaulter, they also went ahead to attach the property of the guarantor.
Using Excel Auctioneers and Court Bailiffs, Equity bank threatened to advertise the Muyenga house if he (Busingye) doesn’t pay up in seven days.
Using his lawyers, Busingye petitioned the Director Public Prosecutions (DPP)
On February 2 2019 the Director of CID in a report, REF CID/A161/225 (that we obtained) released after the investigations titled: POLICE REPORT ON A CASE OF ALLEDGED ABUSE OF OFFICE AND FORGERY BY OFFICIALS OF EQUITY BANK (U) LTD VIDE CID HQRTS G.E. F 55/2019
The report followed a complaint that Harrison Busingye, also the Managing Director of Hydra Homes Uganda had penned to the Director Public Prosecution (DPP) on 9th January 2020 complaining about an alleged plot by three Equity Bank officials to auction his property located in Muyenga comprising of plots 4529 Bock 244 Kyadondo.
The DPP instructed the Director CID to investigate the matter where three officials namely: Abel Musiime Joseph Munyua (Credit & Risk Manager) and Annet Nakigudde were involved.
The above three bank officials, who we have learnt have already been relieved of their duties, say for Munyua Joseph, had imposed a loan of Ugx 175 million on Busingye knowing very well that he didn’t get such loans.
Busingye had also complained to the DPP that these ‘crafty’ bank officials for purposes of illegally auctioning his property had also gone ahead and registered mortgages on his title loan facility which he never got.
In the report, the Director CID noted that the three Equity Bank officials were interrogated and acknowledged that Busingye was a guarantor for a one Nathan Mwesigye who secured a loan of Ugx 350 million.
The trio told detectives that after Mwesigye defaulted, they opted to auction the guarantors security, which was the Muyenga based property to recover the accumulated loan.
The detectives discovered after quizzing Equity Bank officials that the said Ugx75m that was imposed on Busingye was fraudulent since he didn’t apply for the same.
The detectives also discovered that Equity Bank also registered irregular mortgages of Ugx 503, 600,000 (Five Hundred and Three Million Six Hundred Thousand), and 650 million to the land title of Busingye as incumbrancers to the loans he never got
Equity Bank didn’t stop at that, they also registered Busingye and his Hydra Homes (U) Ltd in the CRB as bad debtors, and further falsely registered another loan of Ugx 850 million which he never applied for hence blocking him from accessing any loans from other financial institutions.
In simple terms, Equity Bank had slapped a loan of Ugx 2,078,600,000 (Two Billion Seventy Eight Million and Six Hundred Thousand Shillings) that he never got.
“Stealing with Impunity ? ”
Much as it seems this is what they play best, calling it stealing property with impunity, after the investigations, Equity bank moved in and suspended the officials implicated in the suspected fraud. But just a few months after CID did its investigation, other clicks in the bank are up to their games once again.
In our investigations we unearthed that the executors of this new gimmick is a one Paul Babwetere who works as Head of recovery at Equity Bank, and Faith Lapula who works in legal department.
He apparently told Busingye that his loan would be waived off if he coughed Ugx50 million.
We also recovered his hand written letters he gave Busingye to apply to the bank requesting for a waiver. When he called Babwetere he declined to speak about the matter. Our efforts to get Jimmy A. Mwangangi, the Head of Credit and Elizabeth Nayiga Wamala, the Legal Senior Manager were futile.
On 18th October 2021, working on instructions of Equity Bank again, Excel Bailiffs & Auctioneers in a communication Ref EBA/GEN/2021 to the Directors of Hydra Homes, Attn. Harrison Busingye, Titled FINAL DEMAN NOTICE, “You have persistently defaulted on your loan amount to the bank despite several engagements by the bank to have you rectify the default. Consequently the bank served you a demand notice and reminder notice, but have stubbornly ignored.”
Excel Bailiffs & Auctioneers Naboth Atamba further stated: “ We have instructions to demand you all the loan amount due to the bank within 7 days from the receipt of this notice.”
The bailiffs are demanding that Busingye pays a sum of Ugx 250, 265, 810 that includes their fees in 7 days or they will proceed to advertise his property located on plot 4529 Block 244 Kyadondo in Mengo to recover their monies.
“STAND DULY WARNED AND EXPECT NO FURTHER REMINDER,” The notice concluded. When we called Atamba Naboth he said he was working on instructions of his client, Equity Bank. We asked him why he was intimidating a Ugandan, yet communication from the bank indicated that they were in talks with Harrison Busingye, he hang up.
Client lodges fresh appeal
Not feeling intimidated further, Busingye rushed to his lawyers, SIGNUM & Company Advocates who swiftly wrote to the Director CID Vide (SID/CV/18/106) on October 28 2021.
“Equity bank through its bailiffs are now attempting to sell off our clients; property which is both a subject of police investigation and court litigation,” wrote Busingye’s lawyers.
They asked the Director of CID to immediately halt Equity Bank’s fresh campaigns of trying to deposes their client of his property located in Plot 4529 Muyenga Block 244 Kyadondo.
Officials at CID Headquarters Kibuli told us that this matter was duly investigated and closed. Meanwhile Harrison Busingye has opened a fresh case of criminal trespass against Excel Bailiffs & Auctioneers.