Tanzania: Bank of Tanzania Probs Viguta Ripoff

Dar es Salaam — The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has launched investigating into Vicoba Group Union Tanzania (Viguta) over allegations of fraud and swindling hundreds of million from members.

Members of the public who have paid money to the group on promises of getting surveyed plots and loans have raised the alarm over activities of the group they suspect to be a pyramid scheme. Viguta is registered as an entrepreneurial entity that offers low cost loans to the public.

One must be registered as a member to the group to be able to apply for a loan for a number of lucrative deals. Viguta offers affordable mortgage loans ranging from Sh25 million, Sh15 million and Sh10 million that could be paid for a period of up to five years.

Apart from mortgage loans where a person would have an option of either building a house or have Viguta build for them, member can also secure loans for buying land, motorcycles, tricycles among other deals. The organisation has collected over Sh1 billion in Dar es Salaam and Dodoma regions. BoT manager responsible for supervision of microfinance institutions, Mr Victor Tarimo, confirmed to The Citizen state organs were investigating the group.

"We received formal complaints from the public and we are working on it," he said, declining comment on details of investigation.

Among the complaints are Chamwino Ward Councillor in Dodoma, Ms Hilda Kadunda, who had met Viguta chair Salmin Daudia and director Christina Rwebangira in April 2017.

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"They said Viguta aimed to support low income earners access lands, homes and even capital for business," she said. She said being a councillor, she saw that as an opportunity for her people to be able to get lands and acquire decent homes.

"We mobilized at least 600 people in Dodoma who paid a total of Sh800 million for lands, house construction. People in Chemba, Chamwino, Ihumwa, Chidachi, Mlimwa C, Mtumba and other areas of Dodoma paid for the lands.

"Some people had houses constructed on their lands but the construction was not completed and they have been asking for refund to no avail. One of the victims is the member of parliament who has asked for anonymity," she said.

Reached by The Citizen on telephone, Ms Rwabangira declined comment until he get assured he was really speaking to a journalist. When this reporter agreed to meet her, she cut off the phone.

Ms Teddy Mambo who was an Insurance Manager for Viguta in Dar es Salaam. She said she was looking for plots when she heard of Viguta and approached them.

During discussions they offered to employ her as the insurance manager in Dar es Salaam and she was able to bring in her friends, relatives to purchase lands that were being offered at Kwale area, Kibaha District.

"I paid Sh600,000 for a piece of land and 1,000 other people between Sh250,000 and Sh600,000 and as we speak now, none of us has accessed the lands," she said.

Other people who have been in contact with the group include entrepreneurs who were lured to pay a membership fee of Sh10, 000 to access the loans that did mature.

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