PAC orders quick recovery of Rwf370 million in stolen drugs

RBC leaders before the Public Accounts Committee at the Parliamentary Buildings in Kimihurura last Friday. / Craish Bahizi

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has ordered Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) to fast-track the recovery of Rwf371.1 million worth of drugs that were stolen by its employees.

The recommendation was made as RBC officials appeared before the committee to explain the irregularities contained in the 2017/2018 Auditor General report.

MP Jean-Claude Ntezimana asked RBC why it was taking too long to recover the money.

“We want to know why the money is not yet recovered and the whereabouts of the suspects. We want the money to be recovered in the shortest time…,” he noted.

The embezzlement was allegedly carried out by two former employees of RBC who were in charge of the management of drug stocks.

James Kamanzi, the Deputy Director-General of RBC, explained that the officials were tried in court but the problem has been the delay in the execution of the judgment.

Godfrey Musoni, the Legal Advisor at RBC, said that after winning the case, RBC signed an agreement with the bailiff to help execute the court decision and recover the money but different hurdles are hampering the recovery effort.

He told The New Times that the embezzlement happened in 2014.

“None of the suspects was arrested. By the time court judgment was delivered, the suspects had already vanished and this became an obstacle in the recovery,” he explained.

Musoni said that the option was to work closely with an institution in charge of land management to trace the suspects’ properties and auction them.

“After tracing their properties, we requested a bailiff to execute court judgment but we realised that the properties were scattered across the country. So the bailiff said it was difficult for him to reach the areas since it required own investment to go there for property valuation and execute the judgment,” he said.

He said that these challenges continued to delay the auctioning, prompting them to ask the Ministry of Justice to intervene.

“The Ministry of Justice agreed to facilitate the bailiff. The agreement recommended bailiffs to sign an MoU with property valuators so that they ease the auctioning process and get paid after,” he explained to PAC. “As we do not know the suspects’ whereabouts, we have written to the prosecutor general to help us trace them.”

Procurement irregularities

RBC officials were also quizzed on issues related to irregularities in tender procedures and delay in medical supplies.

These include delayed supply of HIV/AIDS oral testing kits, malaria testing kits, and others.

There were also irregularities in a tender to supply malaria drugs, MPs said. The tendering process was suspended after it emerged that specifications were not matching the ones submitted by the bidders, RBC officials explained.
“The process stopped. We admit the mistake since we never informed the bidders that the tender was stopped but we have taken measures to improve communication,” Musoni said.

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