Home NewsNational Who Was Tribert Ayabatwa Rujugiro? Rwandan Tycoon Passes On Aged 83

Who Was Tribert Ayabatwa Rujugiro? Rwandan Tycoon Passes On Aged 83

by Edmund Kagire
2:45 pm

Businessman Rujugiro courted several controversies in the lead up to his 2010 exile.

Rwandan tycoon Tribert Ayabatwa Rujugiro, has died at the age of 83, according to reports. The billionaire who has been living in self-imposed exile since 2010 when he left after battling allegations of tax evasion in and outside Rwanda.

Rujugiro, most known for his tobacco businesses in the region and several properties, including what used to be known as Union Trade Centre (UTC), in the central business district, joined different political groups fighting the Government of Rwanda but has been quiet in recent years.

Reports say he died in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he has been living since fleeing Rwanda and has in previous years filed court cases targeting the Government of Rwanda in a regional court, seeking to repossess his properties which were seized by districts after they were categorized as ‘abandoned properties’.

Prior to fleeing, Rujugiro battled tax evasion charges in South Africa and the UK. Some reports suggested that his fall out with the government was a result of his legal troubles, in which he expected protection from the government especially in foreign cases, but it did not happen.

Prior to his arrest, Rujugiro, who was a member of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi), was an economic advisor to President Paul Kagame.

However, in subsequent years, after his 2010 exile, the controversial businessman was heard many times backing groups such as Rwanda National Congress (RNC), despite his claim of not being involved in politics. In different interviews, Rujugiro did not hide his political opinions and ambitions.

The ‘tobacco tycoon’, as he was known, Rujugiro was Africa’s richest tobacco manufacturer and trader according to Forbes Magazine in its 2014 article.

His building, UTC, which opened in 2006, was valued to be worth over $20 while his net worth in 2017 was estimated to be around $5bn.

In 2017, district authorities said that Rujugiro’s assets would be classified under ‘abandoned properties’, which were poorly managed, paving way for auction or take over, to ensure that they continue to meet their obligations and ensure proper management.

On the other hand, he was accused of using his vast resources to spread anarchy in the region, including arming armed groups. Beyond Rwanda, Rujugiro had business operations in different countries including Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, South Sudan, South Africa and Nigeria.

Details of his death, cause and burial are yet to be communicated.

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