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Heat now turned on South African lender for operating without licence

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In a twist of events, a South African lender who is accusing businessman Patrick Bitature of defrauding him following a $10 million loan is now facing charges of operating in Uganda without a licence.

Vantage Mezzanine Fund II Partnership recently instituted a private criminal prosecution against Bitature and his wife Carol Bitature.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has since taken over the private criminal prosecution.

However, in a twist of events, a Kampala lawyer, Wycliff Atuhairwe practicing with Moogi Brian & Company Advocates has run to court to institute a private criminal prosecution against the three directors of Vantage Mezzanine Fund II Partnership.

The three directors include Warren Van Der Mernse, Mokgome Mogoba and Drek Alexander.

Atuhairwe says that since 2014, Vantage Mezzanine Fund II Partnership has been doing money lending business in Uganda under an unregistered partnership, without a money lending license and securing registration of various securities in their favour while not legally mandated to do so.

He mentions the $10 million loan agreement that Vantage Mezzanine Fund 11 Partnership entered into with Simba Properties Investment Co. Ltd to advance a credit facility to Simba Properties Investment Co. Ltd which has been accruing interest to date as evidence of operating money lending business in Uganda.

“The applicant contends that the foregoing actions by the respondents constitute various offences under the Ugandan penal regime, for which they are criminally liable,” court documents say.

The offences

The lawyer asked Buganda Road magistrates court to prefer charges of transacting money lending business without a valid lending licence contrary to section 84 (1)(a) of the Tier 4 Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders Act, 2016, carrying on and operating a business in Uganda under a business name which does not consist of the true surnames of all partners who are individuals and the corporate names of all partners which are corporations, without registration c/s 4(1) & (2) of the Partnerships Act No. 2 of 2010.

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The lawyer also asked court to prefer charges of disobedience of statutory duty contrary to section  116 of the Penal Code Act Cap 120, obtaining execution of a security by false pretences contrary to section of  306 of the penal code act and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor contrary to section 391, of the Penal Code Act .

Greenlight given

Following the application, Buganda Road Magistrates Court has given a greenlight to the private criminal prosecution against the three directors of the South African lender.

“The applicant has satisfied all the statutory and  or procedural requirements necessary to commence a private criminal prosecution against the respondents .Leave is granted to the applicant to commence a private criminal prosecution against the respondents upon the contents and averments contained in the complaint on oath and its supporting affidavit,” acting Buganda Road Principal Grade One magistrate, Winnie Nankya  said in her ruling.

Consequently, criminal summons have been issued against the three directors of the South African lender to appear in court on March, 22, 2024 as court reads charges against them.

The development comes a barely a month after the Court of Appeal ordered businessman Patrick Bitature and his wife Carol Nzaro Bitature to face fraud trial in connection with the loan from the South African lender.

The DPP recently took over the private criminal prosecution case against Bitature.

 

 

 

 

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