The controversy surrounding the Masaka Hillview Estate took a new turn on Thursday with the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) suspending a planned auction of the houses by Fina Bank.
The houses that were constructed by DN International using a loan it had acquired from Fina Bank were to be auctioned to recover the money the company owes the bank.
Each of the 19 houses was bought at Rwf55m. The auction was supposed to take place on Friday, November 18.
In an interview with The New Times, Rwanda Development Board (RDB)’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), Clare Akamanzi, said they had to intervene to ensure that the issue was settled amicably without anyone being victimised in the process.
“Rwandans who bought houses at the estate appealed to government to intervene in this case. These houses were collateral to Fina Bank,” Akamanzi said, adding, however, that the case was a complex one.
DN International is accused of defaulting on its loan despite having sold the houses and duly paid by the individual buyers.
The New Times understands that the company only repaid less than Rwf600 million, with the outstanding debt totalling to about Rwf450 million.
The Office of the Ombudsman is spearheading efforts to address the matter, said Akamanzi.
In a meeting last Thursday, it was decided that the auction be deferred to allow DN International time to come up with a proposal on how it intends to clear the debt within a reasonable timeframe, without causing losses to the homeowners. The company failed to meet the earlier deadline for payment which had prompted FINA Bank to go ahead with the public auction.
But amidst all this, information reaching The New Times indicates that the CEO of DN International, Nathan Lloyd, left the country under unclear circumstances. Lloyd was arrested over the matter, in August, but later released.
His home, in Kacyiru, is deserted with sources saying they may have all fled the country following his release.
Police Spokesperson Theos Badege said he was unaware whether Llody fled the country, stating that the case was in the hands of national prosecution authority.
“There is a time we had him in custody but his case was later transferred to the prosecution. If he escaped, it will be up to the prosecution to refer the case to us so that we can issue an international arrest warrant,” Badege said.
The Spokesperson of the National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA), Alain Mukurarinda, confirmed the prosecution was still handling the file, but could not say whether Lloyd was in the country or not.
“What I can say is that we are working on his case and we are closely following up on the issue but, at this moment, we haven’t tried to contact him,” he said.
Efforts to reach Lloyd were futile as his known mobile numbers were switched off, so was the phone of his wife, Cleophas Kabasita.
Fina Bank CEO, Rao Balivada, could not confirm whether the bank would go ahead with plans to auction the houses, referring The New Times to RDB.
However, when contacted by The New Times, the Managing Director of DNI Joseph Kapukha, confirmed that Lloyd was out of the country, adding he believed his boss was in Nairobi, Kenya.
“He is not in the country, and as far as I am concerned he’s in Nairobi. The last time I had a meeting with him was at the Mille Collines Hotel. Later, I could not tell his whereabouts until when he called me telling me that he was in Nairobi trying to raise the money,” Kapukha said last evening.
“How he left I don’t know, he said he wanted to get some money through clients. He said if he had stayed around he risked arrest, which would have made it difficult for him to look for the money the company owes the bank,” Kapukha added.
He said although all was not well with the company currently, they are trying to settle the loan problem.
“We are trying to find a solution that will not see our clients lose their houses. We are trying to identify assets that can be substituted as collaterals; property with significant value. If Fina Bank can give us some reasonable time to find a solution we can come up with one.”
He added that DNI had submitted a proposal to the Ombudsman’s Office retailing how they intended to address the problem, adding that Lloyd had also promised to engage “our clients in Kenya to help raise funds to repay the loan.”
The managing director added that Lloyd had told him he was trying to raise some US$2m to help deal with the company’s financial woes, adding that DNI owes the bank a total of about Rwf450m.