Police investigations into abuse of taxation processes and systems have unearthed how some Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) staff connive with fraudsters in bypassing digital systems to evade taxes.
The Commanding Officer of Revenue Protection Unit (RPU), Alphonse Businge, told Saturday Times that these malpractices came to light as Police followed a lead into a suspected corruption case.
“One person came to us claiming that she was being overcharged vehicle taxes. She had sold off her vehicle that was once a cab, and in the process of transfer of ownership, she contacted a broker to process the paperwork,” Businge said.
The broker, identified as Andre Ntarundenga, agreed to the deal and later returned to the client and informed her that the vehicle had an income tax debt amounting to Rwf320,000.
Ntarundenga tried to convince her that at only Rwf250,000, the debt would be cleared and papers on transfer of ownership processed.
The would-be victim, on suspecting something dubious, notified the Police, which started following the case.
According to preliminary investigations, Ntarundenga had connived with one Eugenie Uwayezu, an employee of RRA who was handling the file of transfer of ownership, to manipulate the system and to defraud her, Police said.
How the system is manipulated
It is alleged that Uwayezu worked with some people within the RRA IT departments to temporarily erase the tax debt on the Toyota Carina RAB 406F so that the system could authorise the issuance of a new logbook, which they did.
Normally, for the new logbook to be processed, the system first detects that the automobile has no debt registered in the system.
However, it is said that the IT staff first erase the tax debt, which allows the system to process the logbook, and after which they enter the debt back into the system. This way, the money paid by the person seeking the transfer of ownership is embezzled.
“We are investigating this specific case, but also other similar fraudulent cases that might have gone undetected,” said Businge.
“Actually investigations have revealed that the actual tax debt was Rwf97,000 and not Rwf320,000.”
Businge warned that whoever is involved will eventually be brought to book and that consequences related to tax evasion or conspiracy to tax evasion are serious.
Reacting to the matter, RRA Deputy Commissioner for Taxpayer Services Department, Drocelle Mukashyaka, advised taxpayers to avoid using brokers whenever they are processing any taxation documents unless they are officially authorised to do so.
“This is an isolated case, and the only one of its kind, which fortunate enough was also intercepted due to the partnership we have with Rwanda National Police through RPU. However, we encourage the public to always ensure they have proper paperwork. There is no service that is delivered without supporting documents or digital proof that the payment was done in an appropriate way,” she said.
Uwayezu is accused of conspiracy in tax evasion, a crime punishable with a prison sentence of up to two years and a fine equal to evaded taxes under article 369 of the Penal Code.