DFCU Threatens to Sue Rajiv Ruparelia for Sponsoring Malicious Media Campaign

One of the DFCU bank (formerly Crane Bank) branches. Inset is Rajiv Ruparelia.

DFCU Bank has threatened to file a criminal suit against Rajiv Ruparelia, son to Uganda’s business mogul, Sudhir Ruparelia for what the bank says is a malicious media campaign against it which is sponsored by Rajiv.

The bank says that over the last 10 months, since DFCU Bank legally acquired some of the assets and assumed some of the liabilities of Crane Bank (owned by Sudhir Ruparelia), Rajiv “has sponsored, coordinated and propagated a fake news campaigns against DFCU” with a view to cause it to collapse.

Last year, the Central Bank took over the management of heavily distressed Crane Bank, at the time, the third largest commercial bank in Uganda. The Central Bank had cited that Crane Bank was under-capitalised and posed systemic risk to the banking sector.

In exercise of its powers as receiver, under Sec 95 (1)(b) of FIA, Bank of Uganda later transferred the liabilities (including deposits) as well as assets of Crane to DFCU Bank.

DFCU had emerged winner amongst 13 institutions that bid for Crane Bank, according to the regulator.

It is after this take over that DFCU through its lawyers Kalenge, Bwanika, Ssawa and Company Advocates is accusing Rajiv Ruparelia of paying online news sites and blogs to publish falsehoods that portray it (DFCU) in bad light.

“You have variously paid the operators of online news sites and blogs to spread malicious falsehoods about our client and its Senior Management, all to create an impression that our client is in a precarious financial situation and an ownership and management crisis whereas that is not the case,” DFCU’s lawyers wrote in an October 5 notice of intention of legal action, to Rajiv.

The news sites listed include Spy Reports, Eagle Online, Kyamutetera(dot com), Crime 24, The Ugandan and PML Daily. DFCU accuses Rajiv of working with individuals like Raymond Wamala, Muhereza Kyamutetera, Wanambwa, Jacob Seaman, Stephen Muneza and Javira to run the fake news campaign.

The bank adds that once the malicious falsehoods had been crafted into sensationalist online content, Rajiv repeatedly sent web links to the named sites using social media to very numerous recipients “with a view to drive traffic to the fake stories in the hope that the links would go viral and cause maximum damage to the reputation of DFCU bank”.

DFCU’s lawyers say that Rajiv Ruparelia’s repeated actions amount to corporate defamation and interference with the bank’s business by unlawful means.

It also amounts to criminal libel contrary to Section 179 of the Penal Code Act and offensive communication contrary to Section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act, the lawyers add.

As such, the bank has threatened to file a criminal complaint against Sudhir Ruparelia’s son unless he immediately ceases and desists from the unlawful activities.

Furthermore, Rajiv has been asked to publish an apology for having engaged in such a malicious campaign, and to make a written undertaking that he will not engage in similar conduct in the future.

The notice by DFCU is also copied to Security Minister, Gen Elly Tumwine, Director of Internal Security Organization (ISO), Col Kaka Bagyenda and the Police Director for CIID, AIGP Grace Akullo.

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