Tom Transfers Company- a dealer in apartments and car rentals in Rwanda and other countries – which is being sued for allegedly defrauding clients of Rwf2 billion cars, is seeking a grace period to be able to handle all issues within six months. Several people told The New Times that they gave money to the company to import cars for them, but since May this year, they have neither received their cars nor been reimbursed. Some had ordered cars for immediate use in their daily life, while others would order for cars and the company would remain with them to rent them out and give the owners profits. Willy Ernest Uwimana, the in-charge of Administration and Finance at Tom Transfer Company, told The New Times on Friday November 25, that the company has not defrauded clients’ money, explaining that the delay in delivering cars was caused by challenges that other businesses are also facing. “Ukraine-Russia conflict affected the shipment of cars as prices also increased. There is a delay in the delivery of cars at the international level and it is not only our company. “While we were trying to cope with the situation, clients took us to court. If we were targeting defraud, we would have closed doors but our office is open and we are still operating,” he said. Another reason for the delay, he said, was also caused by one supplier who had delivered cars with poor quality. “We returned the cars to the supplier and we informed the clients,” he said. He also said that the company owner-Thomas Munyaneza-has not escaped. “He is in Belgium and that is where he lives as he has Belgium nationality,” he noted. Since 2020, over 1,200 cars were imported and sold on the local market which paid Rwf3 billion in taxes, he said. “We faced losses, a financial crisis leading to the issue of cash flow due to delayed shipment after prices increased. We continue to handle clients’ issues and we remain to handle issues of about 200 clients. The company had earlier requested for a three-month grace period but these elapsed in August this year without paying the clients, and extended to January next year. Uwimana explained that they are seeking six months arguing that, “Being sued in court while blocking a bank account and confiscating the cars in warehouses is derailing the progress to recover and pay what it owes to the clients.” “If all these barriers are cleared, we will have addressed all clients’ issues within six or seven months. But with being taken to court and blocking money on banks and cars in warehouses, it could even take years,” he said. “They should give us time and deliver the cars. There are some 250 cars but there is a caveat on them. We are unable to give them to clients,” he requested. The caveat is a formal notice to a judicial officer requesting the officer to suspend a specific action until the party has received an opportunity to be heard on the matter. “RIB should come with economists and we show them the financials. But forensic audit is not even necessary; we only need a grace period to be able to give cars to clients. We have properties that can even help to pay clients even though it will lead to counting losses. We are stuck. The caveat should be removed and be able to import cars for clients,” Uwimana said. Meanwhile, he said there are competitors who might be misleading the company’s clients. “We have only received excuses but there is no evidence that it is true. If they have not bought the cars, they should give us back our money,” one victim said. The victims’ representative, who spoke on grounds of anonymity, requested the company to share all facts with Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB). “How can delivery and shipment be delayed for five months?” he wondered. Thierry Murangira, the spokesperson for Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), told The New Times that investigators are still looking into the issue and allegations, and that the case is in the process of being transferred to prosecution. Murangira said that in 2019-2020, RIB received 1,372 fraud cases which have so far increased to 2,712 cases in 2022. Cases of issuing bouncing cheques have increased from 749 to 1,365 in 2022 while forgery, falsification, and use of forged documents cases increased from 755 to 1, 204 cases. As cases of breach of trust increased from 1, 763 to 4,025 cases in 2022.