KIGALI - Nineteen people who bought houses at a cost of Rwf 55million a unit at Hill View Estate in the outskirts of Kigali city, may lose their homes because the developer - DN International - breached a contract with the project’s financer – Fina Bank.
The Bank placed an advert in yesterday’s issue of The New Times notifying the public about the auction of the 19 houses, scheduled for August 25.
One of the victims, Victor Nduwumwami, paid the full amount for the house to DN International a year ago but his house is among those listed for the auction.
“I paid the full amount to DN International but I wasn’t served with ownership papers. Every time I asked the CEO of DN International (Nathan Lloyd), he remained elusive saying that he was processing the papers,” Nduwumwami said.
He added that there was something suspicious about the way DN International was conducting business.
“When I contacted Lloyd about the advert, he told me that the Fina Bank had made a mistake. But I don’t understand how a bank can make such a mistake and it is approved by a reputable audit firm, Ernest & Young,” he added.
The advert announcing the auction carried an Ernest & Young stamp.
According to Nduwumwami, the victims intend to block the auction by engaging Fina Bank, petitioning the government, and reporting the case to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
Another victim, a senior government official, who preferred anonymity, said that it was clear that DN International swindled its clients.
“I have never owned a house; this was going to be my first house, now it is on sale. In May 2009, I acquired a loan to purchase a house in the Hill View Estates, my bank channelled the funds direct to DN International’s account and I have since been servicing the loan,” said the victim.
“I am a busy person, I can’t get time to inspect the construction of my own house, this is why I opted to purchase one from the estate, but since 2009, I have been requesting DN International to give me my ownership papers but there is always a new excuse.”
“We really don’t want such people who masquerade as investors to keep swindling people’s money. DN International conned me and my bank; I appeal to Fina Bank to hold off the sale until we iron out these issues.”
Most of the clients claimed they had paid DN International but they weren’t served with ownership papers.
When contacted, the Managing Director of DN International, Joseph Kapukha, said that the auction announcement is based on a banking mistake where Fina Bank failed to make clear details of how the accounts were to be done.
“We got the money from our clients and deposited the money to the account but the bank did not get specifications of where to deduct the funds,” Kapukha said.
Asked why they delayed to process ownership papers for the owners, Kapukha claimed that, for long, there was a communication breakdown between the investors’ caretaker RDB, Fina Bank and DN International, which delayed the processing of papers.
“Currently, we want to have a sitting with the Bank, present all the bank statements to them and have this issue solved. So far, we have two cases that we need to isolate, those who paid the full amount and those who didn’t make a full payment.”
In an email sent to The New Times, the Managing Director of Fina Bank, Rao Balivade, declined to comment on the issue saying that customers’ specific information cannot be discussed in the public domain without the explicit consent of the customer.
Currently, there is no Consumer Protection Law to shield the 19 victims from losing their property.
However, the Chief Operations Officer of RDB, Claire Akamazi, said that her office had called for a meeting with all the concerned parties - the victims, the Bank and DN International - to look into the issue.
“Indeed, some people filed claims to us saying that they had paid for the houses; this is why we are meeting with all concerned parties tomorrow (today) and look into the issues. It’s from this meeting that a final decision will be taken,” Akamanzi said.
The controversial Hill View Estates has a total 28 units of which 19 are set to be auctioned.
The Estate is reportedly worth Rwf 848 million.Follow https://twitter.com/EdwinMusoni