Former and defunct Crane Bank proprietor Sudhir Ruparelia circulated in Whats-app Groups a doctored video which might be interpreted as aimed at implicating Bank of Baroda Managing Director Ashwin Kumar and City lawyer Masembe Kanyerezi in allegations that former BOU Executive Director Justine Bagyenda removed documents from BOU without authority.
The original video was earlier presented before the Parliament’s Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) investigating BoU’s role in the defunct banks.
However, Sudhir later circulated a forged one with captions, raising questions about his motive and where it was sourced.
The incident happened on the morning of Saturday 12th January 2019 when former tycoon Ruparelia, using his mobile number 0772 766***, posted a video to several WhatsApp groups for the business community’s rich people in town such as “Bagaga Kwagalana” and “Kololo Residents” and also sent the same to many of his individual contacts in his phone address book.
The video, which Sudhir circulated, was edited to splice BOU security camera footage from the 4th February 2018, when lawyer Masembe Kanyerezi and the Bank of Baroda MD, Ashwin Kumar, attended meetings at the Bank of Uganda premises at the invitation of then Executive Director Bank Supervision Mrs. Justine Bagyenda, with footage from the 10th February 2018, when Mrs. Bagyenda removed personal documents from her office.
Clearly, one gets the impression that the aim of the malicious editing of the video was to make it appear as if the events of two separate days, the 4th and 10th days of February 2018, were actually all on the same day and that banker Ashwin Kumar and lawyer Masembe Kanyerezi were with Mrs. Justine Bagyenda when she had documents removed from her office.
In a press release issued by MMAKS Advocates it is said that on the 4th February 2018 lawyer Masembe Kanyerezi was invited by Mrs Margaret Kasule, the Head Legal BOU for an urgent meeting with her and Mrs. Bagyenda.
The meeting was held on a Sunday because there was a need for urgent advice and Mrs. Kasule was travelling on Monday, 5th February 2018.
Masembe entered the premises of BOU at the appointed time but unfortunately Mrs. Kasule was delayed so the physical meeting took place between Mr. Masembe and Mrs. Bagyenda, with Mrs. Kasule on the telephone.
There is security camera footage of lawyer Masembe leaving the premises being escorted by Mrs. Bagyenda’s bodyguard Judith Adikot.
On the 7th February 2018 the Governor announced a reshuffle of senior executives of the BOU.
Mrs. Bagyenda was replaced as Executive Director Bank Supervision in that reshuffle and left without a designated office between February and her official retirement in July 2018.
So on the afternoon of the 10th February 2018 Mrs. Justine Bagyenda took some time to sort through papers in her office and to remove some private documents from her office to her home.
After Crane Bank Limited collapsed and was seized by BOU there has been a systematic and sustained clandestine effort by associates of its former owner Sudhir Ruparelia to change the narrative and try to get the spotlight off his own misdeeds that brought the bank down.
One of the planks of their strategy has been to use a pliant and eager COSASE to take down his perceived enemies.
COSASE members, playing off the public’s genuine disgust with corruption have been fanning members of alleged failures by BOU officials to strictly follow procedures and creating the impression that the closure of Crane Bank was wrongful.
Leading members of COSASE appear to be willing tools in the game plan; so eager in fact that they have been engaged in extreme contortions and gymnastics to try and keep themselves in COSASE beyond the expiry of its term.
COSASE has permitted itself to be used as a hit squad against BOU’s certain officials particularly Deputy Governor, Dr. Louis Kasekende, Mrs Justine Bagyenda and others.
Documents have been expertly falsified and tabled in COSASE as well as circulated in social media to make it look like Dr. Kasekende and Mrs Justine Bagyenda have accumulated masses of illicit wealth.
In a country such as Uganda, there is an impression that Sudhir’s associates are confident that the trick of diverting attention to the BOU officials will make Ugandans take their eyes off the fact that he caused Crane Bank to collapse after he had illegally and fraudulently extracted over US$ 80 million.
So in the distraction tricks COSASE has been paying attention to bags Mrs. Bagyenda removed from her office on the 10th February 2018 after she had been reshuffled out of office.
COSASE has been focusing on these bags creating a smear innuendo that Mrs. Bagyenda stole BOU documents although BOU has not said which documents were allegedly taken out or missing.
In their purported quest for the truth but actually engaged in a cover up, COSASE received security camera footage from BOU to investigate the alleged removal of documents.
The footage was reviewed in full view of the media, and Mrs. Bagyenda and bodyguard Judith Adikot were asked to comment on it.
During the COSASE seating of 10th January 2019, the Director Security at Bank of Uganda informed the Committee that the footage had been “edited.” Some members quickly pointed out that such footage was unreliable.
Ever since COSASE hearings commenced, some elements had hatched a plan to arrest her when she returned and testified before the Committee.
They had hoped to use the trick they used on her driver and bodyguard whom COSASE had tricked into answering questions before they had reviewed the footage.
This was calculated to get them to contradict themselves and as a result, they were handed over to CID for “further management” since they had “lied on oath.
Believing that the trick would work on Mrs. Bagyenda, COSASE put her on oath as soon as she returned from the United States, and then kept the questions on this footage for last.
Mrs. Bagyenda outsmarted COSASE when she insisted that it was unfair to ask her to answer questions before viewing the footage.
A subcommittee was set up as had been done for in the case of her bodyguard and driver. However, when they failed to trap her into contradicting herself, the MPs decided to air the footage in full view of the media, so as to maximize their intended impact.
Having failed to find a way to discredit Bank of Uganda officials for making the right decision in closing Crane Bank, which was struggling and going to collapse on its own anyway, the footage was only intended to tarnish Bagyenda by portraying her as having refused to be checked, even though she actually presented herself to every security point and personnel did not even try to conduct searches on her, her bodyguard or the property in issue.
Editing and Conflating
Somehow a copy of the security camera footage was made available most likely by elements within COSASE to someone in order that it may be edited and circulated on social media for Sudhir supporter’s character assassination campaign.
The edited video splices footage from the 4th February 2018 with footage from the 10th February 2018 to make it look like lawyer Masembe Kanyerezi and banker Ashwin Kumar were involved in the alleged and unproven removal of documents by Mrs. Bagyenda.
The video that Sudhir is personally circulating is very badly edited. The video clip is 04:29 minutes long.
The footage of the 10th February 2018 is obviously original footage with an authentication date and time stamp in the top left hand corner and camera number in the bottom of the left hand corner. This footage runs for the first 51 seconds.
Footage from Bank of Uganda on 10th February 2018
The spliced footage of the 4th February 2018 starts at the 52nd second. At this point, footage from 4th February is inserted to show Mr. Ashwini Kumar walking through a corridor with Justine Bagyenda’s bodyguard walking ahead of her.
There is no time stamp on the top left hand corner or camera number on the bottom left hand corner on this splice and the resolution is much lower.
Mr. Kumar is not shown entering the building and he only walks through the corridor for 8 seconds. The video does not show Mr. Kumar leaving the Bank and yet it later shows Mrs. Bagyenda leave together with her bodyguard.
The video then shows Mrs. Bagyenda’s bodyguard and personal aid taking out her personal belongings in a blue bag from 1:00 to 2:52. This segment again has the date and time stamp on the top left and camera number on the bottom left.
A new splice is introduced showing lawyer Masembe walking in the corridor from 2:53 to 3:06. Again, this segment has no time stamp or camera number and is of much lower resolution quality. Lawyer Masembe is not shown walking into the entrance of the bank or exiting from it.
Key Differences in the spliced footage
The images of the 10th February 2018 are in very sharp colour and high definition. But the images of the 4th February 2018 which are spliced into Sudhir’s fake video are grainy and in low definition.
In fact, if you look closely at one frame with Ashwin Kumar you can see the glare, shadows and reflections of a person suggesting the footage of the 4th February was filmed by somebody off a computer screen before being intercut with the footage of the 10th February 2018.
The people who were doing the editing for the fake video circulated by Sudhir were so amateurish that they forgot that Juliet Adikot, Justine Bagyenda’s bodyguard, features in the footage of both days.
On the 4th February Adikot was wearing a short sleeved jacket which was white with black or brown spots. On the 10th February 2018 she was wearing a bright orange t-shirt.
The altered clothing is starkly obvious when she is seen leading Ashwin Kumar into Bagyenda’s office whilst wearing the white and black/brown jacket only to emerge from the same office in the next frame wearing a bright orange t-shirt! Whoever paid for this amateurish job should ask for his money back!
Passing through security
Sudhir’s supporters who did the poor editing job attempt to suggest that Bagyenda and her bodyguard dodged security checkpoints. The same accusation is made in the committee (what a coincidence!)
But the footage they have so poorly doctored shows that at each time both Bagyenda and the bodyguard enter and exit the building, there are security personnel opening the doors for them and yet none of them even moves to check or stop them as they do for all strangers who walk into the bank.
Bagyenda leisurely strolls through the metal detector and seems to even talk to security people there. So does her bodyguard. When this fact is pointed out to COSASE upon the airing of the footage they had, it is roundly ignored!
Questions for COSASE
In my opinion, i think it would be interesting to find out where Sudhir got this video from. How did a video of BOU security camera footage given to a Parliamentary oversight committee end up in the hands of these people who edited it?
Why should any Ugandan believe that COSASE which is unable to secure sensitive evidence provided by a critical state institution is acting in good faith and not being driven by an individual with a vendetta?
Why is COSASE becoming increasingly identified with fake or falsified evidence? Remember the fake Kasekende land titles MP Odonga Otto tabled?
Remember the fake documents tabled by Okupa allegedly showing bank and mobile money balances in Bagyenda’s names?
While she has asked for copies of the documents to have them verified several times, the committee has refused to release them because they know they are fake!
What is the Speaker doing to safeguard the process of Parliament and to assure Ugandans that Sudhir has not captured COSASE and Parliament?