8 June 2018

Rwanda: More Rwigara Family Properties to Go Under the Hammer

Photo: The East African
Adeline Rwigara (left) and her daughters Diane Rwigara (centre) and Anne Rwigara are escorted by security officers to a police van after a Kigali court adjourned the pre-trial hearing in which they are facing criminal charges on October 9, 2017.

The Rwanda Revenue Authority will auction more properties belonging to the embattled Rwigara family as it seeks to recover Rwf6 billion ($6.9 million) it says it is owed in taxes.

The taxman will put up for sale equipment from the family-owned Premier Tobacco Company on Monday, its auctioneer Mr Vedaste Habimana said.

The tobacco processing machines will be sold at the factory in Gikondo Industrial Park on June 11 at 10am (0800 GMT), Mr Habimana said, adding that "everything else will be revealed on Monday."

Access to the factory is prohibited but potential buyers are said to have been allowed in.

Efforts by The EastAfrican to access the plant were futile but the paper understands that the equipment to be auctioned includes machines for drying, conditioning, flavouring, blending and packaging, worth about $1 million.

A former factory worker said some of the machines were purchased a few months before the patriarch, Kigali tycoon Assinapol Rwigara, died in a car accident in February 2015.

Anne Rwigara, the family's business representative, claims the auction is illegal and another form of witch-hunt by the government.

In March this year, the revenue authority auctioned nearly 8,000 cartons of the company's processed tobacco for Rwf512 million (about $600,000).

Ms Rwigara, who was present at the public sale, protested that the stock valued at over Rwf1 billion was sold for half the price.

The family alleges that their woes with the taxman are politically motivated, partly due to the decision by Diane Rwigara, the eldest daughter, to contest for the presidency in the August 2017 elections and they also question the circumstances in which their father died.

Diane's bid was unsuccessful after she was disqualified and charged with forgery and inciting insurrection. Her mother, Adeline Rwigara is also facing charges of inciting insurrection and promoting sectarianism.

Diane and her mother have been in jail since September last year.

Their trial is set to resume on July 24.

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