Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) yesterday paraded before the media two suspects whom it accuses of being members of a network of dishonest auctioneers and business people involved in fraudulent auctioning practices.
The two suspects are accused of having received payments so they can pretend to be bidders at a public auction in Kigali City’s Kicukiro area last month where a petrol station valued at Rwf850 million was bought at Rwf330 million.
The suspects, who claimed their innocence while talking to the media, were paraded at RIB’s headquarters in Kigali, with the agency’s spokesperson Modeste Mbabazi telling the media that war on dishonest auctioneers had started.
“We want to show Rwandans that what they have been talking about is indeed true,” he said.
Mbabazi revealed that many people have so far been arrested in the on-going operation to hunt down those involved in different cases of fraudulent auctioning, including a lawyer, who has been acting as a receiver; brokers, commonly known by their French name “commissionaires”, and some businessmen.
“It’s not one person doing these things, there are many people involved,” he said.
Fraudulent auctioning practices have reportedly been hurting many people and businesses on the Rwandan market, especially defaulters of home mortgage loans whose properties are sold at peanut prices during dishonest auctions.
RIB announced on its Twitter account yesterday that it had disbanded a network of people involved in fraudulent auctioning, explaining that the so-called brokers disguise as bidders, undervalue the properties on auction in the interests of one of the businessmen and women, and the properties end up being sold at the lowest prices possible.
“RIB appeals to the public to share information about deceitful dealings and warns the people involved in such deals that measures have been put in place to curb such vices,” the agency said yesterday.
Numerous complaints of how properties are undervalued and sold at give-away prices have been on the increase, with officials at the Ministry of Justice recently pledging to respond swiftly.
The deceitful dealings cause losses to the owners of properties and at times the lending institutions which often fail to recover the full amount of money in a loan from the auction process.
One victim of a fraudulent auctioning, Ernest Migambi, told The New Times yesterday that the practice is such a pity that it made him lose money beyond the unthinkable.
His home, located in Rubavu District, was recently sold at about Rwf6 million in an auction that he describes as fraudulent.
He said that independent property valuers had estimated his house to be worth Rwf22,926,000 and recommended that during an auction it shouldn’t be bought at less than Rwf16 million.
Migambi has since appealed to local officials and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) against the auctioning process and has secured local officials’ temporary protection not to vacate his house. He says the money offered to him is not even enough to pay a Rwf12-million bank loan.
“I am still waiting to see how they will get me out of the house but the practice isn’t fair,” he said.
Migambi said that the receiver who sold his house managed to make it impossible for people to know that it was on sale because he advertised the sale in media outlets that are not locally known in his area and he never put up announcements at his cell’s office.