Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) Secretary General Col (Rtd) Jeannot Ruhunga says they are still investigating the Minister of Infrastructure Amb. Claver Gatete on his alleged role in ongoing cases of misuse of public resources involving the ministry he heads.
Ruhunga confirmed during a joint press conference with the Prosecutor General Aimable Havugiyaremye on Tuesday that investigations on Gatete, which started at the end of June after the Minister was mentioned in several cases involving mismanagement or misappropriation of funds, are still on.
He pointed out that there are several investigations and cases in court in which the Minister has been mentioned, which prompted the investigative body to conduct investigations to ascertain his role but did not say if they have found anything incriminating for the Minister.
“At this point we cannot say we have enough evidence to suggest that he was directly involved in embezzling or mismanaging funds for us to arrive at a conclusion but the investigations are continuing. We will let you know the outcome,” Ruhunga said.
Last month, Gatete was at the receiving end of President Paul Kagame’s scolding during the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) expanded National Executive Committee (NEC). He accused him of looking on as public resources were being mismanaged.
Gatete’s troubles emanate from an ongoing case in which high ranking officials, including Caleb Rwamuganza, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, are accused of flouting tender procedures to cause a loss to the taxpayer by prompting the government to purchase a building at a price which is Rwf2bn higher than its actual cost.
PS Rwamuganza is accused alongside Godfrey Kabera, the Director-General in the Ministry of Finance, Eric Serubibi, the former Director-General of Rwanda Housing Authority (RHA) and Christian Rwakunda, who was Deputy Director-General in Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) until recently appeared before Gasabo Intermediate Court.
The officials are charged alongside businessman Aloys Rusizana, the owner of the disputed building located in Kacyiru, while the other co-accused is Bonaventure Munyabugingo, a private property valuer, who is accused of conspiring with the defendants to buy the building at Rwf9.85bn yet it had been proved that it was worth at least Rwf7.6bn.
President Kagame was incensed by the fact that Minister Gatete oversaw the transaction as well as other allegations of mismanagement of funds in the Ministry, requesting RIB to look into the issue.
Asked why Minister Gatate was still in office yet he is still under investigation. the RIB SG said that they have not found anything incriminating yet for the senior minister but ultimately it is the appointing authority to decide whether he remains in office or not.
“It is not in our mandate to answer why Minister Gatete is still in office. Our job is to investigate allegations and report to prosecution. The appointing authority determines whether one remains in office or not, when investigations are ongoing,” Ruhunga said.
More trouble for former PM Habumuremyi
During the media briefing, the Prosecutor General Aimable Havugiyaremye revealed that Former Prime Minister Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi who is facing charges of issuing bouncing cheques and breach of trust, additional charges which could be added to the file are being investigated. He said since his arrest, more people have appeared with more bounced cheques.
The Prosecutor General said that when he was arrested, the bounced cheques amounted to Rwf100m but since his arrest and subsequent arraignment, more people came forward with unsecured cheques, which are now worth more than Rwf200m. He said there were efforts to engage him to clear his debts but it was all in vain.
The Prosecutor General said that many people he owed money had not come forward and had decided to keep quiet, given Dr Habumuremyi’s status, but when he was arrested and arraigned in court, even those who had feared reported their cases, which is why he was denied bail, for investigations to go on.
“When we received his file, that time the unsecured cheques were just over Rwf100m but as we investigated, another person with a cheque of Rwf70m came forward and then a few more people showed up and now the cheques amount to more than Rwf200m,”
“Normally as a right given by the law, someone has a right to bail as the case continues but in his case we were continuing to receive more complaints of people he owed money. Some of these people had feared to come forward because of his status as former Prime Minister and a high ranking government official but when he was arrested and charged, they came forward,” the Prosecutor General said.
Prosecutor General Havugiyaremye said that on several occasions, Dr Habumuremyi was asked if he could clear the debts but he was non-committal, even when he was advised to sell of some of his properties to clear the debts.
It later emerged that there are more debts written under his name, including mortgaging most of his properties with banks. This brought his liabilities to more than Rwf1bn.
He further said that efforts to give the former PM time to sort out his financial troubles, which he admitted to, yielded no fruits, leaving Prosecutors with no option but to press charges.
On whether he should have been treated differently, the PG pointed out that no one is above the law, regardless of their status. He pointed out that issues of issuing unsupported cheques is one of the most concerning crimes which are being committed deliberately, warning that this financial crime is going to be given due attention given the rate at which is being committed.
On recovery of mismanaged or embezzled public funds, the Prosecution has so far recovered Rwf1.9bn from people who cooperated while 928 files were successfully prosecuted, involving 1,187 people. From the cases, Rwf4.78bn has been recovered and fines worth Rwf2.65bn instituted.