A court in Kigali has sentenced a Kenyan to two years in prison and fined him Sh325,400 (Rwf3 million) for defrauding Rwandans.
Charles Kinuthia was found guilty of soliciting money from hundreds of Rwandans to attend his "wealth conference" in the capital in May.
"Although Kinuthia pleaded not guilty, he accepted that he was the one who sent messages inviting people to attend the conference," the court said, adding that "the messages were not saying [the] same which was a tactic to confuse the interested people in order to get money from them."
He was also denied a suspended penalty "because he pleaded not guilty right at the beginning and never showed remorse for the allegations against him," the court added.
Kinuthia and his co-accused posed as motivational speakers. The three 'speakers' were to host a 'wealth conference' and promised participants 'free money' but things went awfully wrong.
Prosecutors accused the trio of sending an email promising more than 1,000 people $197 (Sh19,700) free money for attending the conference at Kigali Convention Centre. On the material day, more than 5,000 people thronged the centre but were left stranded after no speakers turned up.
"When the mass of people arrived at Kigali Convention Centre to collect free money, they were instead asked to pay $5 (Sh500) each, others $15 (Sh1,500) and VIPS $25 (Sh2,500), which some paid totalling Rwf4.1 million (Sh463,000) and $680 (Sh68,000)," prosecutors said during the pretrial hearing.
During the pretrial, their lawyer Evode Kayitare told the court that the $197 was not promised money but a "value bonus" consisting of access to an online course that attendees would be given at the end of the course.
Kinuthia has occasionally regarded himself as a lucrative high-flying businessman handling tax, accounting and wealth generation matters. He goes by the stage name Coach CK and claims to own several companies across the world and has been featured in local newspapers and on TV as an entrepreneur and educator.
On his LinkedIn page, Kinuthia says he has a PhD in Humanities... He adds "I spent a significant part of my life in Australia. I also lived temporarily in Finland, where I was awarded a full scholarship to attend the University of Helsinki and complete my Bachelor's Degree."
He says he later shifted to Texas, where he started One Stop tax Services, "a national income tax preparation franchise with its headquarters based in Houston."
The court on Tuesday acquitted his co-accused -- Kenyans Vivian Khisa Mukhwana and Rachel Matipei, and Rwandan Mohamed Niyonkuru.
"The evidence provided by [the] prosecution against [the three] is insufficient in showing how they were involved. They were just workers who were lured by Kinuthia," the court ruled.
Additional reporting by Ivan Mugisha