The Ministry of Justice has said that it is working on 'fresh measures' that will help it to recover billions of embezzled public funds.
The New Times has learnt the ministry managed to recover only 13.7 per cent or Rwf303.1 million out of Rwf2.2 billion it had targeted to recover in the last fiscal year.
Emile Ntwali, the Director General in charge of Legal Advisory Services at the ministry, told The New Times that at least 819 people who embezzled the funds are being pursued.
The new measures, he said, were also recommended by 17th National Leadership Retreat, among whose resolutions included one to "investigate and prosecute cases of corruption and institute a recovery mechanism for embezzled public funds."
"We have not met our goal to recover the whole Rwf2.2 billion that we were targeting in the 2020/21 fiscal year. But we have set a new target to recover at least Rwf1.8 billion this fiscal year.
The low recovery of the funds was mainly driven by the disruption by Covid-19 pandemic, he said, adding that it was also hampered by the reform of the IECMS system used in cases' judgement execution that delayed the executions of court decisions," he explained.
IECMS is the Integrated Electronic Court Management System.
The other include the fact that some of the debtors declare having no financial capacity saying they do not have property to be auctioned to recover the money.
Others, he said, have properties but their value can't pay the money owed to the government.
Ntwali said that people who owe money to the government lost cases in different years, especially from 2013 to 2019.
"Most of the cases in which we have to recover the funds were recorded in the last three years because judgments for those from 2013 were executed since 2014 and there remain few of them that faced different challenges," he said.
Fresh recovery measures
The official said that besides sensitizing debtors to pay, the government is drafting a law governing the pursuit of public servants that make the government incur losses and the recovery of funds from the cases that the government won as well as unpaid fines.
"The draft bill is still being refined," he said.
He added that the ministry also plans to work with different institutions to fast-track the recovery of embezzled public assets.
These, he said, include National Identification Agency, Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA),Rwanda Revenue Authority, Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), Rwanda Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, TransUnion Rwanda and banks, Rwanda National Police and professional bailiff association among others.
"These institutions offer services to people who embezzled the money and some know where they are located, information about their properties both-immovable and movable.
For instance, banks will help tell their clients to first pay money owed to the government to ensure trust in them before accessing bank services," he explained.
Ntwali added that having realized that people-who owe money to government have no immovable or movable properties that can be sold, the ministry is working with RSSB to check if they have employment/jobs that can help government recover the funds they embezzled.
"We will also share the list with different institutions that will help to investigate if they really have no properties. We will also work with revenue authority to see if these people have businesses or other income generating activities we can sell and recover embezzled public funds," he said.
He added that the districts have also integrated courts judgments execution in their performance contracts adding the ministry of justice has also entered agreements with professional bailiffs.
"There are 68 bailiffs with contracts to execute 345 case judgments worth Rwf6 billion. More than 35 bailiffs will get contracts soon so that they help to recover the funds by force," he noted.
He added that some of those who embezzled public funds have been imprisoned and some have completed their imprisonment but they still have to pay back embezzled funds.