Suspects in infamous “wealth conference” appear in court

Three Kenyan nationals and one Rwandan Tuesday appeared before Kicukiro Kagarama Primary Court to face charges of fraud and convening an illegal meeting at Kigali Convention Centre.

The four were arrested in June following a botched “wealth creation conference”.

Participants had been promised money for attending but when they reached the venue they were asked to pay, causing commotion, which attracted the attention of the media and security organs.

The accused include Dr. Charles Kinuthia, who, according to prosecution, is the principal suspect behind the scheme. Kinuthia is said to be the owner of Wealth Fitness, the company that organised the event.

The others are Vivian Khisa, sales executive of the company and Rachel Matipei, the Director for Sales.

The Rwandan suspect, Mohammed Niyonkuru, is said to be the one who received several payments from attendees via mobile money.

The prosecutor accused the four of trying to obtain money from the public by using fraudulent tactics.

He said, the four, led by Kinuthia, organised and promoted the “wealth conference” via different online platforms; telling people that entrance was free, as well as promising them US$197 which they had tagged as “value bonus.”

According to the prosecutor, Dr. Kinuthia and team later wrote to the people; informing them that seats were limited, advising them to pay small fees basing on the training package they wanted to receive (US$5 for expert package, US$15 for VIP package, and US$25 for diamond package).

In anticipation of the training and the US$197 “value bonus,” many people decided to pay for the meeting, and the organisers were able to collect more than Rwf4 million and US$880.

On the day of the training, about 2,500 people showed up at the KCC. Commotion arose when some of them were not allowed to enter due to the fact that they had not paid, while others were disappointed to find out that they were not going to receive the US$197 that had been promised.

As a result, Rwanda Investigation Bureau was called in, and a number of people were arrested; many of whom were released save for the four.

In defence, all the accused denied the charges saying they never promised anyone cash to attend the conference.

Dr. Kinuthia told the court that the US$197 “value bonus” did not imply cash rather a reward that was worth the money and in this case, it was an online course. He added that his team sent emails to different people clarifying about the “value bonus,” since questions had risen concerning it.

Evode Kayitana, the defence lawyer of the three Kenyans further told court that Kinuthia had paid over US$4,000 to hire halls at the convention centre, a fact that shows that he was serious about the conference.

Kayitana added that the three Kenyans were staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel, something that shows that they did not have intentions of hiding away from the venue, as fraudsters would have done.

Responding to the charges of convening an illegal meeting, the suspects said they had not encountered a law that stopped them from organising a business training. Furthermore, they said they had talked to the management of the hotel about issues of security and had been told they did not need police for such an event.

The next hearing is scheduled for September 16, 2019 and that’s when the witnesses will be brought to court to testify against the suspects.

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