Ex-energy boss Nyamvumba handed six-year sentence, fined Rwf21 billion

The Nyarugenge Intermediate Court on Tuesday September 29, sentenced Robert Nyamvumba to a six year jail term after he was convicted for corruption.

Nyamvumba is the former Division Manager in charge of energy at the Ministry of Infrastructure.

 

He was charged with attempting to solicit a bribe worth Rwf7.2 billion from a Spanish investor, Javier Elizalde.

 

Neither the accused – who is incarcerated at Nyarugenge Prison, Mageragere – nor his lawyers were present in court during the pronouncement of the verdict.

 

Reading the verdict, the presiding judge said the court assessed the merits of the charges and found that there was sufficient evidence to convict Nyamvumba for corruption.

“Court therefore finds the accused guilty and sentences him to six years in prison, and must pay a fine of Rwf21.6bn,” pronounced the judge, adding that the accused can appeal against the ruling within a period of 30 days.

According to the judge, the fine was determined in accordance with the law, which stipulates that the fine for anyone convicted for corruption must be three times the money involved in a corruption transaction.

This is the same punishment that prosecution had sought for the accused during the substantive hearing.

How the crime was committed

According to Prosecution, in 2019, Elizalde, the Spanish investor, won a tender worth more than Rwf72 billion to set up street lighting on Rwandan roads.

By the beginning of 2020, the tender was only pending signing to go into implementation when Nyamvumba called the Spaniard requesting that they meet in Kigali.

The contractor agreed and travelled to Kigali.

According to prosecution, during the meeting, Nyamvumba told the investor that a top official in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MINECOFIN) wanted a 10 percent commission of the total value of the tender “to speed up things.”

This information, the prosecution previously said, was given to them by Elizalde who made the complaint to Rwandan authorities after his meeting with Nyamvumba.

Quoting Elizalde, prosecution said that Nyamvumba told the Spanish that failure to cede the 10 percent commission would mean that there would be delays before the project would be given a go-ahead.

Prosecution says that at that time, the tender documents had reached the desk of the permanent secretary of the MINECOFIN who was Caleb Rwamuganza by then, and it is feasible that it was him that Nyamvumba was referring to as a top official that would speed up the process.

However, prosecution says that Rwamuganza was interrogated by Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) concerning this, and they found out that he was not part of Nyamvumba’s scheme.

In his defence, Nyamvumba said the meeting indeed took place, but said the 10 per cent they discussed was an upfront that was supposed to be advanced to Master Steel, a local steel manufacturer which was supposed to partner with the Spanish firm to execute the project.

The figure, Nyamvumba told the court, was discussed between the contractor and a one Jean Damascene Niyomugabo, the proprietor of Master Steel and that his role was to bring the two parties together.

The money, according to Nyamvumba and his lawyers, was meant to help the local partner expand his production line, to be able to absorb the demands that would come with the multi-billion tender.

eashimwe@newtimesrwanda.com

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