KIGALI - The Commissioner General of Police, Emmanuel Gasana yesterday launched an operation geared at phasing out illegal money lenders commonly referred to as ‘Bank Lambert’.
Police have in their custody 14 suspects at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters in Kacyiru accused of being loan sharks.
“This illegal money lending has high side effects because it affects property and individuals’ security as well as crippling the nation’s economy,” Gasana told the press at his office.
“There is one incident at Gisozi where someone threw a grenade at somebody’s home damaging two cars in the compound, but fortunately nobody was injured. When we investigated, we discovered the cause of the crime was this illegal ‘Banque Lambert’,” Gasana said.
The Police chief said the suspects had breached article 426 of the penal code and that they risk up to one year in prison if found guilty.
Many of the culprits were rounded up from Kigali’s central business district.
“This ‘Banque Lambert’ serves people with immediate pressing problem who don’t care about future problems. It has the highest interest rates almost 100 percent and no business can afford such high interests, moreover these are loans with no guarantee.” François Kanimba Governor of the Central bank said.
Kanimba warned that the scheme was not only breaching the penal code, but also laws and regulations governing financial institutions in the country.
Reports say the network of these loan sharks is well entrenched with many of these lenders using tax payers money they borrow from officials in charge of State resources in different government institutions.
Others are financed by senior employees of commercial banks and microfinance institutions.
While responding to the claims, Kanimba said there was a possibility it happens since it has been discovered that some bank officials give loans to the sharks and pocket the interest.
“We have discovered that bank employees, including the Central Bank, have been assisting these people. So that would mean that some officials in government institutions in charge of funds could also easily help them since it involves pocketing their own interests,” Kanimba clarified.