Ham Vs DTB: Ham Enterprises Raises Critical Questions on Banking Regulations & Judicial Independence In Uganda

The legal battle between businessman Hamis Kiggundu, also known as Ham, and Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) has been an ongoing saga that has sparked a significant debate surrounding the independence of Uganda’s judiciary and the potential influence of politics in legal proceedings.

At the centre of the controversy is DTB’s admission of illegalities committed and documented on court records. This has become a litmus test for the country’s legal structures and the judiciary’s ability to uphold the law.

Many concerned individuals and legal scholars have questioned the potential influence wielded by Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka and his legal partner Mr Edward Karugire of Kiwanuka and Karugire Company Advocates. They fear that their positions and connections could potentially protect Diamond Trust Bank from the illegal actions it has admitted to committing.

The case has become a weighing scale on the independence of the Ugandan judiciary, as non-tolerance of illegalities in all courts of law is the baseline of all legal structures and judicial proceedings internationally. This highlights the importance of a fair and impartial judiciary that is free from political influence.

One critical point of scrutiny is Kiryowa Kiwanuka’s dual role as both the Attorney General and a partner in K&K Advocates, the defence firm of the embattled bank. This raises doubts about the impartiality and independence of the judiciary. The potential conflict of interest in such a scenario has further fueled concerns that the outcome of the case could be compromised.

Many people are wondering whether Kiryowa Kiwanuka’s political influence as the current Attorney General and Mr Karugire’s marital status could save Diamond Trust Bank from the illegalities committed and admitted on court records. Alternatively, they are hoping that this case will be a beam of hope for all Ugandans as a solution to the cancer of exploitative foreign banks that unlawfully debit monies from Ugandans’ accounts.

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It is widely known that once politicians and public servants start financially competing with the private business community, it compromises social-economic development and upward transformation of the society at large. They start using their positions to undermine all structures, systems, and policies put in place to carry the nation forward. Therefore, it is essential that the Ugandan judiciary remains impartial and independent to ensure that justice prevails for all.

Ham Kiggundu’s application for judgment


Diamond Trust Bank unlawfully debited UGX 120 billion from Ham Enterprises (U) Limited’s accounts. The bank admitted to committing illegalities at the high court on court records when Mr Kiryowa Kiwanuka told the court that DTB had no license to operate in Uganda. Judgment was made in favor of Ham Enterprises at the high court for recovery of the debited monies from the bank.

The bank and its lawyers, K&K Advocates, appeared before the Supreme Court in 2021 and admitted the failure of the Court of Appeal to address the substantial point of illegality in their submission of November 5, 2021.

On November 11, 2021, Ham filed an application stating that DTB had concurred with him that the Court of Appeal (COA) justices, Richard Buteera, Christopher Madrama, and Kenneth Kakuru, did not address the issues of illegality, contrary to the provisions of the Financial Institutions Act. As a result, the case now awaits judgment on admission, while DTB remains entangled in the admissions it made on court records at both the high court and the Supreme Court.

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The outcome of this case raises several crucial questions, including:

  • Can the Ugandan Supreme Court shield an illegality contrary to international standards for judicial proceedings?
  • Will Kiryowa Kiwanuka’s political influence and Mr. Karugire’s marital status impact the resolution of the case?
  • Is Kiryowa Kiwanuka’s dual role as Attorney General and partner in K & K Advocates a conflict of interest that compromises the independence of the judiciary?
  • Can Diamond Trust Bank evade legal consequences due to weak legal structures and policies in the country?
  • Will this case serve as a turning point for Ugandans dealing with exploitative and poorly regulated foreign banks?

A panel of esteemed judges, including the Chief Justice of Uganda, has been selected to decide the case based on the court records and Ham Enterprises’ application for judgment on admission. The outcome of this high-profile case will not only determine the fate of Ham Enterprises and DTB but also set a precedent for the Ugandan judicial system. It will test the strength of the judiciary to administer justice and uphold the law in the face of potential political pressure.

The genesis of the saga began in March 2020 when businessman Hamis Kiggundu through his lawyers, Fred Muwema of Muwema and Co Advocates, filed a suit against DTB for the unlawful debit of monies in excess of UGX 120 billion from his accounts. The bank unlawfully withdrew these amounts over a spread period of ten years in excess of all the companies’ liabilities to the bank. Kirwowa Kiwanuka admitted on court records in September 2020 that DTB Kenya did not have a license permitting it to conduct banking business in Uganda, and neither did DTB Uganda have the authority to conduct agency business on behalf of DTB Kenya, thereby contravening sections 4(1) and 117 of the Financial Institutions Act and the banking regulations.

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On October 7, 2020, a judgment was entered in favor of Ham Enterprises (U) Limited at the high court by Hon Justice Henry Peter Adonyo. Karugire and Kiryowa Kiwanuka using their political influence resultantly demoted and transferred the said judge immediately from the head of the High Court Commercial Division to Soroti.

Diamond Trust Bank admitted on court records in their submissions that they committed illegalities, emphasizing that “The Court of Appeal justices erred at law when they failed to address the Substantial point of illegality upon which judgment was rightfully entered at the high court, specifically stating that: ‘The learned Justices were entitled to first deal with the grounds regarding the procedure adopted by the trial