Former Prime Minister Dr Pierre-Damien Habumuremyi is in debt amounting to over Rwf1.5bn owed to different creditors including suppliers, employees and commercial banks among others.
All the debts, which also include statutory obligations like taxes and employee contributions to Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) were accrued from Habumuremyi’s business, Christian University Kigali (CHUR).
Habumuremyi was arrested on Friday last week and he is being investigated for among other crimes, issuing bounced cheques and breach of trust, according to the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB).
The alleged crimes were committed between 2018 and 2019 when he was the rector and owner of Christian University of Rwanda, according to Dominique Bahorera, the Acting RIB Spokesperson.
Habumuremyi, who was premier between 2011 and 2014 founded the university in 2017, which initially had operations in the City of Kigali before it expanded to open a new campus in Karongi District.
Beginning 2018, Habumuremyi’s university faced financial stress, failing to pay suppliers of school equipment and forcing the former Chairperson of the Chancellery for Heroes, National Orders and Decorations of Honour (CHENO) to take debts from different creditors.
According to an investigation by Igihe.com, a local news website, the former premier failed to pay rental fees for owners of the complexes from where his university was operating, even though the owners were kind enough to give him ample time to address his financial woes.
Before the university was closed by the education ministry earlier this week, their Kigali campus was using the premises of Saint-Paul, which is owned by the Catholic Church.
But it wasn’t until recently that creditors and suppliers had enough of him and decided to drag him to courts.
Others had been given cheques which bounced after finding no money on the accounts belonging to the university.
Habumuremyi who has business units in hospitality is alleged to have issued bounced cheques, and Igihe listed a number of incidents during which he issued such cheques since last year.
A cheque is considered bounced or rubber, in most cases, when an individual, group account holder or company issues it as a mode of payment against a bank account with insufficient funds on it.
On May 30, 2019, he issued a bounced cheque worth Rwf28 million, on November 30 during the same year he issued another cheque worth Rwf38 million.
The following year, 2020, on March 4, he issued a rubber cheque worth Rwf17.5 million, and on June 30 during the same period he issued another cheque of Rwf10.7 million.
According to reports Habumuremyi was on several occasions summoned by different entities, advising him to address the issues he had with creditors and stop the habit of issuing bouncing cheques but this persisted.
Habumuremyi is also accused of breach of trust.
The same investigation found out that he awarded a tender to a local supplier to procure ICT equipment to his school. The supplier was requested to deposit collateral of Rwf10 million.
The supplier whose name Igihe didn’t mention, delivered the goods as requested only for Habumuremyi to return half of the collateral the supplier had deposited, and going further to issue a rubber cheque of Rwf17.5 million in payment of the supplied goods.
The former premier is believed to owe up to Rwf1.5 billion, which includes some Rwf452 million in rental arrears and a total of Rwf300 million comprising debts he owes to his employees and the tax body.
There is also further evidence to show Habumuremyi owes local banks up to Rwf530 million, as well as some Rwf200 million he owes suppliers of assortment of his university’s equipment.
According to the domestic laws, a cheque defaulter shall not be allowed to access any credit facility in banks, microfinance institutions or in any lending institution.
He or she will not be provided with a new cheque book by any bank or microfinance institution or allowed to open a new account in a bank or in a microfinance institution.
In addition to the sanctions, a cheque defaulter shall return back all cheque books given to him by his banks or microfinance institutions.
Issuance of a bouncing cheque is punishable under article 373 of the Rwandan penal code with a jail sentence of two to five years, and a fine of between Rwf500,000 and Rwf1 million.Follow https://twitter.com/Julio_Bizimungu