Rwanda: Organiser of Infamous "Wealth Conference" Given Two-Year Jail Sentence

17 September 2019

The Kicukiro Primary Court on Monday sentenced Dr. Charles Kinuthia, the main suspect in the infamous wealth conference that flopped at the Kigali Convention Centre, to two years in prison and fined Rwf3 million.

Kinuthia was found guilty of fraud but was cleared of the charge of convening an illegal meeting.

The other three suspects who were charged alongside Kinuthia were acquitted.

Kinuthia and the other three suspects were arrested in June and charged with fraud and convening an illegal meeting.

Kinuthia who is said to be the owner of Wealth Fitness, the company that organized the event appeared in court earlier this month alongside two fellow Kenyan nationals Vivian Khisa and Rachel Matipei as well as Rwandan Mohamed Niyonkuru.

Khisa is the Sales Executive of Wealth Fitness and Rachel Matipei the Director for Sales while Mohammed Niyonkuru is the one who received payment from participants via mobile money.

While pronouncing the court ruling yesterday, the presiding judge said that there was evidence of fraud in Kinuthia's initiated conference.

Among the evidence, the judge said that Kinuthia, being an experienced organizer of conferences in different countries, would have correctly written his emails sent to Rwandans in a way that does not confuse them about bonuses they would get.

Still, the judge said that Kinuthia's messages to Rwandans telling them that seats were limited and they needed to pay in order to avoid missing out appears as a technique used to manipulate people into hastily giving money towards the conference.

Among other things, the judge also found that Kinuthia didn't have expertise in training people in job creation since his Ph.D. is in humanities.

The other three were acquitted since their actions as employees of Kinuthia did not quite link them with the main role in engineering the fraud that characterized the conference.

The prosecution had argued that Kinuthia and the co-accused organized and promoted the "wealth" conference, promising free entrance to participants as well as $197 which they had tagged as "value bonus".

This, however, was not fulfilled as Kinuthia and the team later wrote to the people informing them that seats were limited, advising them to pay a small fee based on the training package they wanted to receive.

The expert package was being sold at $5, VIP package $15 and $25 for the diamond package.

The organizer was able to raise more than Rwf4 million and $680.

On the day of the training, about 2,500 people showed up at the KCC.

Some people were refused to enter the conference because they had not paid while others were disappointed to discover that they were not going to receive the $197 that had been promised to them.

This sparked a commotion, arousing media attention and interest from security agencies, particularly Rwanda Investigation Bureau.

Dr. Kinuthia in the previous hearing had told the court that the $197 "value bonus" did not imply cash rather a reward that was worth the money and in this case, it was an online course.

He added that his team sent emails to different people clarifying the "value bonus," since questions had risen concerning it.

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