Mbale businessman under probe over Asians property row
KAMPALA (DAILY MONITOR) – A businessman, who is accused of fraudulently acquiring 63 properties formerly belonging to departed Asians in Mbale District, has been ordered to present documents before the land probe.
The Commission of Inquiry into land matters is investigating Mr Praful Chandra Patel on accusations of snatching a multi-million property at the centre of a rumbling row.
The commission headed by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire on Wednesday directed police detectives to go with Mr Patel to Mbale and pick up all documents which he is using to claim ownership of the property in Mbale District.
The documents include powers of attorney, letters of administration, and sales agreements executed between Mr Patel and the defunct Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) as well as mortgage documents and land titles.
“We need you (Praful Chandra Patel) to bring all the documents that are necessary and powers of attorney that you have been talking about. Go with our investigators and stay with you until you get all those documents. You will remain with the lead counsel until tomorrow,” Justice Bamugemereire ordered.
Mr Patel is accused of fraudulently presenting himself as a beneficiary to acquire various properties in Mbale Municipality, along with his nephew, Parimal B Patel. In his testimony, the businessman admitted owning numerous plots in Mbale but he amused the commission when he failed to present documents in regard to ownership of the said property.
“I do have a land title in my name for property on Plot 11 Republic Street in Mbale. I do not remember when I bought the property from the bank. All the information is in the documents and they are with my lawyer who died and the bank closed,” Mr Patel testified.
He also amused the commission when he testified that he acquired letters of administration to own another property on Plot 16 North Road but could not provide proof.
Witnesses had earlier testified that the Indian businessman presented forged powers of attorney and transferred the property without authority from the custodian board and or the rightful owners.
The executive secretary of the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board, Capt (Rtd) Bernard Tumwesigire, testified that he discovered 16 plots illegally transferred and others undergoing illegal transfers, which prompted him to call for police investigations.
“In the letter Mr Patel presented that granted him authority from Budaka Ginners Limited, he indicated 16 properties allegedly given to him to manage. When you compare signatures on this letter and the letter Mr Patel wrote to the deputy RDC about the number of properties that he owns in Mbale, they are quite different. And Budaka Ginners being a corporate body, I expect him to present a resolution from the board to give him management powers of those properties,” he said.
Testimonies. Another witness, Ms Robinah Matanda accused Mr Parimal and Mr Patel of conniving with a one John Nalemu to grab their family property on Plot 11, Republican Street, in Mbale Town. Ms Matanda testified that their later father, a mayor in the 1980s, acquired a property from an Asian in 1969 and the lease was extended in 2006 but they later learnt about documents indicating that Mr Patel had bought their house.