Bank confiscates multi-billion Ham towers
Uganda’s arguably youngest tycoon Hamis Kiggundu and his Ham Enterprises empire are sinking in the deep waters of the Pacific, after it emerged that he is entangled in a debt trap with banks.
The millionaire, who won the tender to develop Nakivubo stadium, is facing it rough after a Kenyan bank confiscated the land title for his mufti-billion shilling multi-storied Ham Towers located near the main gate of Makerere University.
Kiggundu’s misery stems from a colossal US$2 million loan – equivalent to Ushs6.7 billion, which he took from Imperial bank, a Kenyan bank before it ran into capital problems. This newspaper established that Ham as he is popularly known among his peers obtained the loan on September 26, 2014. He deposited the title for his beautiful and strategically located Ham towers at Makerere as security for the financing.
The young man who shocked many in Kampala with his overnight riches that include a hotel like mansion on the shores of late Victoria, has now resorted to court to fight it out with Exim Bank, the one that took over Imperial Bank, to recover the title whose particulars are LRV 296, Folio 1, Plot 409 and its physical locality is Makerere Hill road.
Along the way, Ham found problems repaying the loan. Consequently, the bank recalled the loan on August 7 last year.
At the time the bank sent the demand notice, the loan facility stood at USD4,337,065. The lender threatened to auction the security upon Ham’s failure to settle his liability.
The Sunrise has seen the letter recalling the loan. It was addressed to the directors of Ham Enterprises who are Hamis Kiggundu and Jalia Nakayiza.
Authored by T.W Vaidyanathan and Joseph Matsiko, the Imperial bank’s credit manager and legal officer respectively, the letter sets out by giving the date when Ham obtained the loan and then notes how his repayment had turned irregular.
“You are 41 days in arrears on the loan by USD83550.25. Note that USD1,994,170.50 is (will be) outstanding by October 12, 2015,’ the letter reads further.
Upon receipt of the demand note, Ham spoke to Orient bank which undertook to buy out the loan. It pledged to hand Ham a total of USD6.5m out of which Ham would invest USD2.1 in re-capitalizing his businesses.
In the interim, Ham had written to Imperial bank on November 4, 2015 inquiring how much he owed. The bank returned a figure of USD4,337,065.
The lender was undertaking to release the title upon full settlement of the loan quoted above and advised Ham to send the funds to his dollar account using “RTGS”. The letter bears the name of the bank’s legal manager, Leila Nalule.
But whereas Orient bank duly wired the money to Imperial bank, Ham states that the recipient bank has since refused to turn the gesture by releasing the title to the former.
On the contrary, the bank has since written to Orient, stating that it will have to seek for permission from its main branch in Nairobi before releasing the title. The bank’s head of credit and its legal affairs wrote on November 9, 2015 changing goal posts.
We got hold of the letter. It carries reference IBUL/Credit/JW/037 and carries the headline” Collection of Title Deed” and refers to an earlier correspondence of Orient delivered on that very day.
We are quoting only the line relevant to the matter at hand, “We shall release the title as soon as we receive clearance from Imperial Bank Kenya limited.”
Stuck without security to fall back on in case of default on part of Ham, Orient resorted to Bank of Uganda to help resolve the matter. Orient’s MD Julius Kakeeto wrote the letter jointly with the head of credit, Millie Nkaja on December 9, 2015.
We accessed the correspondence that was addressed to the central bank’s director of commercial banking. It bears reference UBL/LD/231/2015 and carries the heading, “Complaint for non deliverance of certificate of title in respect of Ham Enterprises (U) limited.”
It reads in part, “Orient took over a loan from Imperial bank who have failed to handover the title deed which was securing the loan. We seek your intervention to resolve this issue.”
Orient complains through the letter that whereas Imperial gladly received the funds, it has since resorted to playing games by putting the condition of seeking for prior permission from Nairobi before they could handover the title.
Ham has now filed a case challenging the refusal by Exim bank, who took over Imperial bank, to handover the title to Orient.
In a plaint filed by Baraka and company advocates, Ham says Orient is charging him exorbitant penalty in absence of the security, which he asserts, Exim is holding illegally. He explains that by June 2 when he filed the lawsuit, the penalty charges stood at USD121, 756.60 and continues to swell.
Narrating the misery Imperial bank has wrought on, Ham points out that he had negotiated a further USD2.2m loan with Orient, which the bank can’t be pass on to him in absence of the title.
Accordingly, Ham agonizes how the failure to obtain the USD2.2m has wrought distress on his real estate development business. He works out a figure of USD243, 512.40 as the operational damages he had suffered by May 26, 2015.
Overall, Ham wants court to reprimand Exim by paying the USD2.2m loan he was supposed to receive from Orient. The businessman asks court to have Exim refund the exorbitant penalties he continues to pay on the loan Orient bought out as a result of the latter’s refusal to handover the security.
Furthermore, he wants Exim to pay heavy punitive damages for sabotaging his businesses for no good reason at all as well as refund all the money he is going to spend on litigation.
The deputy registrar has since sent out summons to Exim bank, directing them to respond to the charges within 15 days from the date of receipt of the same.