Commerce ministry under police probe
Commerce Minister Protais Mitali and the State Minister for Industry and Investment Promotion, Vincent Karega are being investigated over corruption-related cases. Also under investigation is the Secretary General of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment promotion, Tourism and Cooperation, Justin Nsengiyumva, and various mid-level officials at the ministry.
Also under investigation is the Secretary General of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Investment promotion, Tourism and Cooperation, Justin Nsengiyumva, and various mid-level officials at the ministry.
They were all recently interrogated at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in connection with several tendering irregularities involving millions of Francs.
CID director Chief Superintendent Costa Habyara confirmed yesterday that the officials were indeed interrogated, adding that investigations into the cases are still ongoing.
“Yes CID is carrying on investigations on cases of illegal awarding of tenders in that ministry,” he said. He however declined to give details of the tenders in question and the exact amount of money involved. He said the officials were interrogated late last month.
Asked why there have been no arrests to that effect, Habyara said any measure would be taken after investigation findings.
Sources however said that the tenders in question are alleged to have been awarded to ghost (non-existent) tenders created by the ministry’s officials themselves. “It is a long list of tenders that were awarded fraudulently and to fake companies set up by officials in the ministry,” a source close to the inquiry said.
And when contacted last evening, minister Mitali, who was uncomfortable to discuss the issue, admitted he was interrogated. He was however highly cautious in his brief revelations, and repeatedly described his appearance before CID investigators as “discussion.”
But he was equally reluctant to divulge into details of his ‘meeting’ with CID personnel though he admitted there indeed investigations still going on. “It is true I discussed with them but it is something that was only between me and CID. And the fact that I am yet to receive their (CID’s) report, I cannot discuss what we talked in the media,” Mitali said.
He instead pleaded that the story shouldn’t be published saying it risked sending a wave of panic among his ministry’s employees.
“I really think that you shouldn’t write on something that is still under investigation. Some of those things (scandals) are said to have taken place before my coming (to the ministry) while others reportedly occurred during my time here.
“But when I was discussing with CID, it was me alone, and I don’t think of our staff know about it,” Mitali said from his office at the newly inaugurated Commerce ministry headquarters in Kimihurura, Kigali.
Asked whether he is worried with the probe, Mitali said: “I am not guilty at all. I have a clean conscious on that.”
State Minister Karega declined to comment last evening preferring to speak out at a later date, where as Nsengiyumva cellular phone was switched off by press time. It was equally not possible by press time to identify the identities and number of directors under the police probe.
Sources said the police investigation is seeking to establish circumstances under which illegal tenders were awarded and who exactly are behind the irregularities.
In the recent past, a number of government officials have been arrested and charged with breaching tendering procedures with one of the recent case being the detention of four officials of Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) including its director Dr Tito Migabo.
In addition, a few years ago President Paul Kagame sacked the then Agriculture Minister Dr Patrick Habamenshi in connection with tendering anomalies for which he was later dragged to the courts of law.