Police in Kabale on Thursday dispersed a group people believed to be National Bank of Commerce (NBC) customers, who started thronging the bank offices demanding for their savings. This was just hours after Bank of Uganda announced the closure of NBC and suspension of its management.
This was just hours after Bank of Uganda announced the closure of NBC and suspension of its management. According to a press statement issued by Louis Kasekende, the Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda, the central bank has taken over operations and management of NBC to protect the interests of its depositors.
But in Kabale, over 50 bank customers stormed the offices along Nyerere Avenue in Kabale town to demand for their money.
Angry customers tried to enter the bank but they could not move past the police which had sealed off the premises asking them to leave.
Kasekende’s statement dated September 27 was placed at the Bank’s entrance indicating that the bank had been taken over by the Bank of Uganda, and its Board and Management suspended.
Another document also signed Kasekende was telling the customers to go to Crane Bank and access their deposits and that all the borrowers must continue to service their loan obligations with Crane Bank Limited.
However the customers who attempted to access their deposits from Crane Bank told URN that they were turned away.
Johnson Kahesi, a customer at NBC says he went to the bank to withdraw money to buy goods for his shop only to find policemen in control.
Kahesi says he was just told by the policemen that he could not access his account.
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Nicholas Byaruhanga, another NBC customer says he is just stuck as he had gone to pick money to help him in his day to day activities.
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Kabale district police Commander Bosco Arop says that the police is at the branch to ensure that the premises are secure and to ensure.
A staff of Crane Bank, who talked to URN on condition of anonymity because she is not authorised to talk to the media, revealed that the bank will on Monday next week start extending services to NBC customers.
She revealed that Crane Bank had taken over NBC but declined to give more details about it. NBC officials could not be reached for a comment on the matter.
The closure of the National Bank of Commerce comes against the backdrop of ownership disputes between the few majority shareholders who own 86 percent of the bank and 320 other shareholders who own just 14 percent.
The majority shareholders are Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Crown Beverages chairman Amos Nzeyi, and Information and Communication Technology Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
The minority shareholders, who include former Supreme Court Judge George Kanyeihamba and former health minister Jim Muhwezi, contend that the bank's name was changed from Kigezi Bank of Commerce to National Bank of Commerce without their consent.
But they lost a bid to stop the majority shareholders from selling shares or carrying out any other transactions.
In March this year, the Bank of Uganda appointed an advisor to NBC on its affairs. The central bank then said the move was intended to protect the depositors of the bank whose shareholders are in the process of resolving an ownership dispute.
In July 2011, the Bank of Uganda approved the purchase of 49 percent of the NBC shares by an Abu Dhabi investment company, the Emirates Link.
NBC was formed in 1991 and in 2009 it was ranked 22nd biggest bank out of 23 then with an estimated combined asset base of about 50 billion shillings.