By Hudson Kuteesa
The building at the centre of the case is an office block opposite Umubano Hotel in Kacyiru. / Photo: Craish Bahizi.
Senior government officials including Caleb Rwamuganza, the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning were on Tuesday, June 23, denied bail by Gasabo Primary Court.
They are implicated in a case involving the mishandling of a multi-billion franc public tender.
The other co-accused are; Godfrey Kabera, the Director-General in the Ministry of Finance, Eric Serubibi, the former Director-General of Rwanda Housing Authority and Christian Rwankunda, who was until recently the Deputy Director-General in Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) and former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Other suspects are Aloys Rusizana a businessman, and Bonaventure Munyabugingo a private property valuer.
The six are charged with conspiring to mismanage a deal in which government purchased an office building, with anomalies which prosecution said cost the taxpayer a whooping Rwf2 billion.
During his ruling, the judge said that there was reasonable ground to suspect the officials for the crimes they stand accused, and thus remanded all the six.
Among the reasons, the judge said that Rwamuganza accepted to court that he had attended the price negotiation meetings, and it is him who took the final decision to buy the house in the last meeting.
According to prosecution, the group conspired in causing approximately a Rwf2 billion loss to the taxpayer, in a transaction of purchasing a building from local businessman Aloys Rusizana.
The building in question is an office block opposite Umubano Hotel in Kacyiru, and according to prosecution, it was valued at Rwf7.5 billion, but was later purchased by government at Rwf9.8 billion.
According to prosecution, Rwankunda, in his capacity as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure was tasked with leading the process of buying the building which was meant to house government offices.
But he is said to have conducted the process in a way that is contrary to a number of public procurement laws.
The committee held a number of negotiation meetings with Rusizana’s AP Limited in May 2018, meetings that were attended by Kabera, Rwamuganza, Serubibi and Rwankunda.
Prosecution accused Rwankunda, Serubibi and Rwamuganza of colluding to misuse public funds and flouting of standard procedures on public tenders.
Kabera was charged with complicity in flouting tendering procedures, and complicity in misuse of public funds.
Rusizana and Munyabugingo were also charged with complicity in misuse of public funds and complicity in flouting tendering procedures.
During the bail ruling, the judge said that businessman Rusizana showcased various reports showing the value of the house, which he said pointed to a possible collusion with those who represented government in the deal.
Regarding Kabera, the judge cited the reasonable ground for his being suspect, one of which being his being in attendance of the negotiation meetings and he could have been able to detect foul play due to the inconsistencies that came up.
For Serubibi, the judge said that he did not seek the advice of relevant departments in his institution before making the decision to endorse the acquisition of the building.
Despite the fact that suspects such as Rwamuganza, Rwankunda and Rusizana presenting collateral in form of their houses, court refused to heed their plea, with the judge citing the seriousness of the charges they face.