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Bitature signed & got $10m loan by mistake - lawyer Muwema

Patrick Bitature

Patrick Bitature

Fred Muwema, the lawyer for businessman Patrick Bitature insists his client 'signed by mistake' the $10 million loan agreement with South African entity, Vantage Mezzanine Fund II Partnership.

Whereas Muwema acknowledged that indeed Bitature contracted a loan agreement and took money from Vantage, he says when it was discovered that this entity was illegally operating in Uganda, this contract effectively collapsed because an illegal entity can never do legal business anywhere in the world.  

“The loan agreement was signed in 2014 by other lawyers, but when we came in as new lawyers, we audited the documents and we found that there was a mistake and we raised it...The criminality is in breaking the Ugandan law which says that a foreign partnership must register if it is not using its name. If you don’t register it’s a crime. It is there in the law. You’re supposed to go to jail if you do business as a foreign partnership in those circumstances - without registering. It is an offense...Now you, you commit a crime and you sign an agreement, you come here and do business, you don’t follow the laws of Uganda. The laws of Uganda say you must register, for you you refused and you give money, the laws of Uganda will catch you. Justice Ssekaana used the laws of Uganda, he didn’t dream up that judgement. The judgement, it quotes the law so if you’re having any arguments, you go and argue with parliament which made the law. It was a crime to break the Ugandan law, what more do you have to say.” Muwema said. 

On May 9, High court judge Musa Ssekaana ruled that Vantage has no legal basis to sue anybody in Uganda. The entity had rushed to court seeking a judicial review over the decision by the Uganda Registration’s Services Bureau (URSB) to object the transfer of shares to them from four of Bitature’s companies that include; Simba Properties Investment Co. Limited, Simba Telecom Limited, Linda Properties Limited and Elgon Terrace Hotel Limited. 

The attempt to transfer the shares arose after Bitature failed to meet his part in the agreement to pay back the loan he had contracted in 2014 to help in his real estate development. According to 2019 court filings, Vantage provided Bitature with $10 million and agreed to such terms that if he fails to pay this money, it would be turned into shares to Vantage.

The agreement also stated that, in case of any disagreements, these would be resolved through arbitration not court. That’s why High court judge Boniface Wamala earlier ruled that his court had no powers to hear the dispute and referred it to arbitration. 

"We would have reached that stage [of arbitration] if Vantage was legal, but we cannot even go to that stage because the other man died, he doesn’t exist. We cannot speculate what he would have done if he lived. You can sign under mistake, you can think it is okay, and later when you come to your lawyer they tell you this is not allowed…Even the government of Uganda sometimes signs by mistake. The [coffee] agreement of [Enrica] Pinetti which [MPs] have destroyed in parliament, wasn’t it signed by a whole government? Didn’t government make mistakes. So if a government can make a mistake, you think you [] can't make a mistake and then go to a lawyer to advise you and say this was wrong. That is what happened," he added.

“In the case of Sudhir [Ruparelia], didn’t he sign an agreement to pay Bank of Uganda; didn’t the Supreme court of this country nullify that agreement and said the receivership was illegal?" he asked. "There are also very many judgements to that effect. So, when you do an illegal agreement, even if we sign and even put figure prints, the agreement is illegal; it will be nullified whether you paid money or not. So now I have no opponent, I’m in the ring alone!” 

Muwema added that after breaking the law, they, as law abiding citizens would not continue dealing with Vantage. The Monitor newspaper this week carried an advert in which Quickway Auctioneers and Court Bailiffs acting on behalf of Vantage, put up for auctioning Bitature’s properties if he fails to pay his creditors within 30 days.  The advertised properties include Elisabeth Royal Apartments, Protea Hotel Naguru and Moyo Close Apartments; all managed under Simba Apartments.

Now Muwema insists that this was done with malice to soil the good name of Butature. He said although the arbitration process which was supposed to happen in London was yet to take off, they were stunned to read in the media that Vantage was moving to attach his client’s properties. On why the parties went to court in the first place, Muwema said the agreement was unfair to Bitature because it levied unconscionable interest rates. 

"There are so many decided cases where the courts have cancelled loan agreements with excessive interest rates...So that will now be hurdle number two. If you jump the hurdle that you’re legal and you exist, now we go to the terms of the agreement. Everyday the Commercial court is examining the terms of agreements between banks and borrowers. Everyday Commercial court is full of those cases. So the court has powers to examine the agreement you signed with your bank and say was this fair because there are certain obligations a lender has to meet. There are certain rights a consumer/borrower is entitled to. So they examine and open up those agreements and if they find they are unfair, they are illegal and so on, they cancel them or they reduce the interest or the amount," he said.  

In court, Bitature had also objected to taking the case to arbitration, arguing that that particular clause was included in the loan agreement under duress but the judge wouldn’t have any of this. He scornfully ruled: "In my view a feeble claim of duress and/or undue influence of the nature as this one amounts to an insult of own intelligence on the part of the Respondents and their advocates.” 

However, Muwema said unfair agreements are a common thing even to big entities like governments. He added that if the judge had interrogated the issue further, he would have realised that indeed there was undue influence.

"The judge should have heard the issue of undue influence, undue influence is not heard in an application, the judge should have put people on the stand and called evidence. It wasn’t a full hearing and what for us we’re saying; can the judge hear the issue of duress in a full hearing, the issue of illegality in full hearing…the court refused but just made a comment that there was no duress and so on but it was not subjected to a trial," Muwema added.

Our reporter was still unable to speak to Robert Kirunda, Vantage lawyer despite repeated calls to his known telephone number.


+21 #1 Uhuru 2022-05-21 12:51
Just think of it on moral grounds. Borrowing money and refusing to pay simply because the person you borrowed the money from is not legally registered soumds like fraud to me.

Bitature, you should be better than this. Please pay vantage their money. Yes, you may have the legal high ground, but note that around the world, people get killed because of these kinds of things.
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+16 #2 Zaitun 2022-05-21 14:10
"The loan agreement was signed in 2014 by other lawyers, but when we came in as new lawyers, we audited the documents and we found that there was a mistake and we raised it...The criminality is in breaking the Ugandan law which says that a foreign partnership must register if it is not using its name."

Do not tell us that the former lawyers of your man were fake save you!

Before you start blaming them, please, tell us how this businessman happened to become so rich and so influential unless he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth!

After doing some shoddy work, your man now comes in the open to blame his former who had aided him to become what he is today. You better give us a break. After all, in our Uganda of today, behind every rich young man, there are quite miserable skeletons in his cupboard; yes very dirty stories indeed.

My dear learned man, do not tell us ignorant citizens that your man is as clean as a white snow, without a blemish.
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+5 #3 Moses 2022-05-22 11:15
It is only in Uganda where people become so rich without a known model that made them rich.

And those who raise questions are considered negative, anti development etc.
We are such a wicked people
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+4 #4 Remase 2022-05-22 16:20
Muwema, if you sign an agreement with a criminal, what are you?

While you are still at it, that matter was adjudicated by a competent court, particularly and preciously on legality or illegality of Vantage as a company that entered into an agreement with Bitature, isn't that a res judicata matter? It ma y well be that, "“The loan agreement was signed in 2014 by other lawyers," and also it were other lawyers who represented Bitature on the same issues by the same parties, and Bitature was found liable, didn't Bitature simply shop for lawyers and/or a court that ruled in favor? Is that what you call lawful or legal court process?

Muwema, isn't ssekana another Kavuma and hell bent on fraudulently using his power as a judge? You deserve to go straight to jail, don't pass the go, and don't collect $ 200.
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-8 #5 Joe 2022-05-22 20:21
ZAITUN, I Hope its you and are a woman!

Women tend to be more rational than we men folk, what happened to you? Before courts have decided, you are already crucifying a fellow Ugandan!

The hatred you espouse for the so called western Ugandans is distressing! For most of your contributions on this forum, if one is from the so-called western region, they are guilty, yet all Ugandans are equally guilty far as corruption and self-enrichment is concern in our Uganda, albeit some more than others.

That man Patrick, has struggled all his life to be where he is, he is humble, without malice or hatered, if he wins because of the other party's luggardness, let us celebrate him.
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+4 #6 Zaitun 2022-05-23 15:18
Whatever you call it, there is no hatred here when a group of die-hard tribalists are squandering the resources and the economy of the country which they supposedly take for a family property.

You like it or not, the future will tell. If you think they have done nothing wrong to the people of Uganda, why can they not leave power peacefully and go to look after whatever rgey have amassed but instead continue inflinging toture on Ugandans who criticise them?

Why should Ugandans get killed now and then as if they have become sacrificial sheep?

Whether you like it not, we shall continue with all sorts of criticisms they merit, you like it or not! No one asked you guys to cause havoc as means of getting to power with the result that you now fear for your lives! No one hates you, but you hate Ugandans.
You are not Alpha and Omega!
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+1 #7 sula 2022-05-23 18:05
- The Bitature's &co have looted this country.

- They have hoodwinked Ugandans and the world that there is a growing Economy in Uganda , whereas it collapsed a long time ago.
- The country is bankrupt and they too like any other Ugandan are sinking with the country !!!!!!!!
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-3 #8 Joe 2022-05-23 20:54
ZAITUN, when the country gets the "critical mass" of people of your kind and whose thoughts converge with yours Museveni and the people you loath will be history that very day, otherwise, keep campaigning.
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+3 #9 Kalibbala 2022-05-23 22:06
Looking over the Teller rand to Countries like Germany where Families Like Bosch, Siemens, Daimler,Adidas,and Others are Responsible for Employing Citizens of that Country, In Uganda So -called Rich like Bitature, Basajjabalaba, Ham Kiggundu etc, Milk the Treasury and Spend the Money on Concubines, Building Five Star Hotels,and Malls instead of Industries! To Create Jobs for the Young Folks!

These poor Souls are Trafficked by Their Companies to Work as Sex Slaves and House Helps in Arabian Countries!!..

Uganda a Gangsters paradise is Where Bank of Uganda is Robbed in Broad Daylight by One Bagyenda To Invest in Kigali!!

The Curse Mocks our Folks to Eat Muhogo or Chew Sugar Cane!!While All Monies intended to Develop our Country are distributed to his Cronies..ZAITUN You are right 400%! Sowing The Hatred Seed..Authored by Kisiraani and Enemy of Humanity..
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0 #10 Juggernaut 2022-05-28 09:26
The Bitatures are the reason Uganda is failing to develop. They are getting free moneys from government, stealing/robbing those who lend them and he goes about pretending to be a successful businessman yet in reality he depends on crookery to survive.

If I were him I would pretend to appear in business fora as a 'motivational' speaker.

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