Supreme Court to Rule on Legal Brains Trust’s Amendments in Basajjabalaba Compensation Case

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The Supreme Court in Kampala is set to rule next week on an application by Legal Brains Trust seeking to amend its case against businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba.

The case involves the controversial 142 billion shillings compensation Basajjabalaba received from the government for losing tenders to manage markets in the former Kampala City Council.

Legal Brains Trust, a non-profit organization represented by Isaac Ssemakadde, is demanding a refund of the compensation, alleging Basajjabalaba used government officials, the Bank of Uganda, and four commercial banks to facilitate the misappropriation of funds from the consolidated fund.

During the Supreme Court session on Friday, presided over by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Ssemakadde sought to make several amendments to his cross-appeal to ensure a proper determination of the case.

These amendments included replacing the late Professor Mutebile Tumusiime, the former Governor of the Bank of Uganda, with the administrators of his estate, updating the names of banks that have since changed, and introducing two additional grounds for the appeal.

Ssemakadde argues that the Constitutional Court’s decision failed to address key issues, including the unauthorized grants from the consolidated fund and the role of the banks in the alleged fraud. He insists that the banks solicited and received unauthorized funds and have unlawfully refused to return the money.

Lawyers for Basajjabalaba and other respondents argued that the case against Mutebile should be dismissed as he is deceased and that the amendments would prejudice the banks and other respondents. They also claimed that Ssemakadde introduced new grounds long after the pleadings were closed in 2022.

After hearing the submissions, Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo promised to inform the parties of the court’s decision on the amendments before proceeding with the main appeal.

The case dates back to 2010-2011 when Basajjabalaba, using guarantees from the Central Bank, obtained USD 65 million (Shs 238 billion) from commercial banks but failed to repay the loan.

The compensation was allegedly for losses incurred due to the cancellation of contracts with the defunct Kampala City Council. Legal Brains Trust contends that the compensation process was fraudulent and has called for a refund.

In 2020, the Constitutional Court partly ruled in favour of Legal Brains Trust, declaring the transactions illegal and ordering Basajjabalaba to refund the money. However, both parties have since appealed the decision.

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