Over 250 land titles, bank accounts seized as prosecutors go after corrupt officials

Prosecutor General Jean Bosco Mutangana. File.

Prosecutors have over the past three years seized up to 234 land titles and frozen 29 individual bank accounts as part of efforts to recover stolen taxpayers’ money, an official has said.

Jean Marie Vianney Nyirurugo, the head of economic and financial unit at the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA), said Wednesday that the seizures were conducted under the 2015 law governing public asset recovery.

Nyirurugo, who was speaking at an event where Transparency International Rwanda unveiled its analysis of the Auditor General report on Wednesday, said the frozen bank accounts involved more than Rwf300 million linked too corruption cases under investigation.

“We freeze assets of some people because we know that they are likely to start hiding their properties or start transferring it to other people once they have been placed under investigation,” he said. “We can also seize property even if it has no clear connection with the offence committed but the suspect cannot explain its origin,” Nyirurugo said.

He added: “It is only after someone has been tried in court, at all levels; that the stolen funds can be recovered. But we also try to recover public funds before taking the suspect to court, but this is only when a suspect accepts to bring back the money”.

At the international level, he said, assets acquired fraudulently are traced through mutual legal assistance requests, and joint investigations. He listed countries contacted by Rwanda in this effort, including Nigeria, Central African Republic (CAR), Canada, Uganda, Spain and Belgium.

Domestically, criminal assets are traced through bank accounts, motor-vehicle registration, land title registration, and capital market shares.

Nyirurugo said more than Rwf3.7 billion in taxpayers’ money has been recovered – as a result of 770 criminal cases involving 999 convicts – between 2013 and 2017.

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