Leaked WhatsApp chat shows online editor soliciting for bribe to tarnish Sudhir image

"But I didn't get paid as promised. Remember I did that story of a pseudo company he wired Shs160 billion to."

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SPOTLIGHT | A leaked screen grab of a supposed WhatsApp chat between a city news wire editor and another unidentified party has surfaced, showing a plot to write and publish news content against Sudhir Ruparelia and his associates.

The WhatsApp screen grab, whose authenticity Crime24 is yet to verify, shows the journalist reminding the party they address as “counsel” about “what we agreed [on] last week.”

Sendo Cleaners

“Sorry, I hadn’t got time to access the files but I will get you some detail about Sudhir’s daughter [Sheen Ruparelia] and Kalan’s involvement,” replied the counsel, believed to be a top lawyer in the country.

The lawyer represents dfcu Bank and is understood to have been behind a legal notice in which dfcu accused Sudhir’s son Rajiv Ruparelia of paying several online editors to run stories that would cause a bank run on dfcu.

Kalan in the chat appears to be former Crane Bank managing director AR Kalan, who vanished with huge money allegedly swindled from the bank.

Having broached and got the attention of the counsel, the journalist then spelt out his intention in black and white, saying “but I didn’t get paid as promised. Remember I did that story of a pseudo company he wired Shs160 billion to.”

The journalist in the unverified WhatsApp leak is notorious for brown envelopes and has survived a couple of scandals over the years, including one recent incident by the whisker..

Last year, sources told Crime24 that this particular journalist survived a sting operation by the whisker after a cop at Central Police Station in Kampala tipped him just minutes before he had arrived at a scene where detectives were waiting in hiding.

The said incident was of an alleged extortion scheme against an Asian investor to kill a story. After pinning the investor and demanding Shs50 million to kill a story, the two parties agreed on Shs20 million that the investor then asked the journalist to pick.

However, the investor reported the matter to security operatives and a trap was laid with the snare at a location the investor would hand the journalist the money from. But waiting in ambush were detectives with cameras to record every detail of the transaction for evidence to be used later.

The journalist was driving to the rendezvous when they received a call from their source at CPS in Kampala alerting them of the set up.

Such incidents are commonplace in Uganda’s media setting. Even the connivance of senior lawyers in the same will not shock many as there are many documented incidents of top lawyers leading the way in fraud.

Just two weeks ago, a budding female lawyer was forced to pull out of a Shs50 billion compensation case, claiming a top lawyer in the country had made threats to her life if she did not step back and let them partake in the fraud.

Mirembe, the lead partner in Mirember and Company Advocates, was representing a group of about 2000 from a community that is expecting compensation from government to a tune of Shs50 billion. But a lawyer had stepped in with plans to pay the claimants a total of Shs320 million from own wallet and then pick the rest on their behalf and vanish with it.

“The lawyer asked me to step aside and accept some money so that he rides on the community’s ignorance and need to claim all the money for himself,” Mirembe said in an alarming Facebook post last year.

To Crime24, it does not come as a surprise the detail of the WhatsApp chat. This news website took the decision to run the story even though without the identities of the two parties because we believe it is legit.

From the profile picture of the journalist in the WhatsApp screen grab, it is highly unlikely that the detail is doctored. We have, however, smudged the WhatsApp profile since this news story does not identify the journalist nor does it seek his defence in the wild allegation.

Meanwhile, the ‘counsel’ ended with telling the journalist that they were aware of the balance the editor was claiming and urged him to do more ‘campaign’ articles.

“Write another serious piece before Cosase submits report, find details on the other email. Don’t fear him,” the counsel told the journalist.

Cosase is the parliamentary Committee on Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises. It recently completed a highly charged probe into circumstance under which Bank of Uganda liquidated seven commercial banks in the last 25 years.

The probe saw several detail emerge that suggested there was deliberate connivance by central bank officials in the sale of commercial banks, including Crane Bank that was owned by property magnet Sudhir.

Crane Bank’s assets and liabilities were sold to dfcu Bank on the cheap and the businessman is understood to have taken the sale hard. He has since sued dfcu Bank and Bank of Uganda over the matter while his son Rajiv has also sued dfcu for defamation and leaking his personal contact detail.

The disagreements between dfcu and their lawyers and Sudhir and his family and associates have always been played out on the media arena with both sides rumoured to have recruited journalists to their sides.

Former Cosase chairman Abdu Katuntu is expected to submit a report on the Bank of Uganda probe to Parliament in coming weeks.

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