Man arrested for defrauding Rwf 600m from NGOs

GASABO - Police are holding Silas Munyaneza, the legal representative of Christian Action for Development (CAD), a local NGO for allegedly conning university students of millions of Francs in a fake scholarship scheme.
Silas Munyaneza.
Silas Munyaneza.

GASABO - Police are holding Silas Munyaneza, the legal representative of Christian Action for Development (CAD), a local NGO for allegedly conning university students of millions of Francs in a fake scholarship scheme.

Munyaneza is now being held at Kimironko Prison as investigations into the alleged scam continue.

The suspect reportedly received about Rwf600 million between 2007/8 meant for university students and victims of last year’s earthquake in Cyangungu but pocketed it.

Police sources say Munyaneza was using names of the earthquake victims as a means of raising millions of francs for his personal enrichment.

“He received a lot of money from donors in Europe but he ‘used’ it instead of helping the intended beneficiaries,” a reliable source from the office of the Prosecutor General’s said on Wednesday.

Immediately after the February 2008 earthquake, Munyaneza reportedly approached the donors in England and the US to intervene. He said the funds were to construct houses and schools destroyed by the earthquake.

According to available documents, Munyaneza was given money but on the expressed understanding that it would be spent on the construction of houses and other destroyed structures.

But there are a few activities on the ground to show how the Rwf 600 was used. Sources from CAD say sometimes money would come and instead of going to the NGO’s account, it would end up in Munyaneza’s personal accounts.

Other documents available from UK donors show that he got over Rwf 18 million but there is no evidence on the ground to show how it was spent.

After receiving funds to help earthquake victims, he reportedly approached donors again. This time, he wanted them to sponsor many Rwandan students who had failed to meet university education bills.

Documents show that over Rwf440 million was sent. However, Munyaneza reportedly pocketed all the money. He later tried to flee the country through Uganda to Canada to escape mounting pressure for accountability from the intended beneficiaries.

Among other objectives, CAD was set up to help orphans access food, clothes, medicine and also help victims of natural disasters.

About 800 students are said to be stranded now. They allege Munyaneza solicited about Rwf 300,000 from each of the students, on claims that he would get sponsorship for them.

The affected students have petitioned the Ministry of Education to intervene.

“We are stranded and we cannot go back to school. We suspect Munyaneza could have banked the money in Uganda,” one of the affected students who spoke on condition of anonymity said.

Sources from CAD also allege that Munyaneza’s brother has fled with the NGO’s two vehicles and other useful documents that implicate him.

One parent who declined to be named said Munyaneza had told them that after paying Rwf 300,000 as registration fee, no more payments shall be made.

Munyaneza’s arrest comes barely two months after an audit by the Supreme Court discovered that about Rwf 3billion had been diverted by a local church-affiliated NGO, Italia Solidate.

Italia Solidale had received funds from Italy to help about 2000 orphans left vulnerable by the 1994 genocide against Tutsis. But the leaders of this NGO instead put the money to their own use.

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