The Office of the Ombudsman said that injustice and corruption in financial services has far-reaching effects on the economy and the livelihoods of people, thus effective strategies are needed to tackle it.
The observation was made on November 24 during a press conference on the preparation of marking the International Anti-Corruption Day due for December 09, in Rwamagana District.
In marking International Anti-Corruption Day, the Office of the Ombudsman is organising a week long campaign from November 26, to December 09, under the theme "Promoting Anti-Corruption Values for Sustainable Development".
Chief Ombudsman Madeleine Nirere said that in order to improve the service delivery in financial institutions so that the beneficiary (client) receives a better, faster and more transparent service, a consultative meeting on the measures to prevent and fight corruption in financial services will be held on December 06.
"This was chosen so that the financial institutions including banks, and their regulator - the National Bank of Rwanda - and other entities including the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, will play in the discussions to consider how the service can be expedited and be offered in transparency," she said.
According to the report of the Ombudsman for the fiscal year 2021-2022, the Office received 94 financial service-related complaints.
It indicated that the issues are mainly based on lack of compliance with loan agreements, which results in banks auctioning the debtors' property, something that the property owners consider 'injustice'.
Odette Yankurije, Deputy Ombudsman in charge of Preventing and Fighting Injustice, said that the reason they chose to have a day dedicated to efforts meant to tackle corruption in financial services, is that they are important to the country.
She said that, for every Anti-Corruption Week, they consider an issue to focus on, pointing out that, last year, they had a special day for tackling corruption loopholes in the construction services.
Based on the cases the Office of the Ombudsman has been receiving, Yankurije said, corruption and injustice loopholes might be found in all stages of loan processes, including studying a loan request, granting a loan and repaying it, approval of guarantee, as well as the sale of the collateral or execution of court judgments.
"At the Office of the Ombudsman, we often receive citizens' complaints related to injustice committed against them in institutions providing financial services. And corruption and injustice go hand in hand," she observed, pointing out that one causes the other, and vice versa.
Depending on how corruption was committed, it is the citizen or beneficiary of the financial service who falls victim, or the financial institution that incurs losses, Yankurije pointed out.
"For instance, if a person is given a loan undeservingly because they offered a bribe, and later fails to repay it, the financial institution incurs a loss. If a resident requests a loan and meets the requirements, yet he/she is denied it because he/she did not accept to give a tenth of it as bribe to the people who worked on his request, he/she has suffered injustice," she said.
"There are cases where it is approved that one has collaterals worth the loan he/she is requesting, but, when things get hard and the person has to repay the loan, it is found the securities' value is lower than the loan they got," she said.
A series of events planned with aim to address corruption
During the Anti-Corruption Week, the Office of the Ombudsman said it will carry out a series of activities with a view to set up the fight against graft.
They include conveying an awareness message on preventing and fighting corruption to the public across the country through community work (Umuganda), during the launch of this Week 2022 on November 26, 2022.
This message will be delivered by the staff and officials of the Office of the Ombudsman, who will join the residents of Kicukiro District in the activity.
On November 27, a live talk show on Radio Rwanda with the topic "Appropriate strategies for instilling youth on Anti-corruption values" will be conducted by a panel composed of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth and Culture.