17 April 2014

Rwanda: Former Telexfree Members Threaten Legal Action

A group of Rwandans who had invested in the former Telex-Free Rwanda Ltd are considering legal action against the company in a bid to recover their money, The New Times has learnt.

The furious members had earlier appealed for government's intervention after the US based company filed for bankruptcy under the US Bankruptcy Code, to address certain operational challenges.

The Bankruptcy Code prohibits creditors from taking certain actions related to debts prior to the commencement of the Bankruptcy Cases.

Some members who spoke to this paper yesterday said local and foreign lawyers are being lined up for a legal battle.

"We want our money back. Our local and foreign lawyers will advise us accordingly," James Gihana, a Rwandan investor and former member of TelexFree said.

Without divulging details, Gihana said the decision was reached with other members from various countries.

The company's operations in Rwanda were banned last month after investigations revealed that it was performing a pyramid scheme that benefitted only the owners, leaving most clients counting losses.

Emmanuel Hategeka, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, on Tuesday told this paper that it was difficult for government to intervene since the firm had no assets in the country.

"What we can do is only to look into the contractual framework between the company and members and advise accordingly," he said. Rwandans could lose as much as Rwf44 billion, according to sources.

Another investor who preferred anonymity said he still had his hopes in government's intervention.

"Government should take up this issue and help find a solution," he said.

Jean Nepomuscene Mugengangabo, a commercial lawyer at Bona Fide Law Chambers Advocate in Kigali, said it was possible for the members of the former TelexFree to sue the company by either going through the US embassy or travelling to US to file a petition there.

"It is possible to get back their money as long as they are sure about the mother company in US," he said.

He also said that the victims had an option of suing the company in Rwanda and then transfer the case to US courts later.

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