Police probes Armor Group over bribery

CRIME - Already embroiled in controversy over discrimination among its guards, police is now investigating claims that some managers in Armor Group, a city security firm demand bribes while recruiting workers.
CID chief, Costa Habyara.
CID chief, Costa Habyara.

CRIME - Already embroiled in controversy over discrimination among its guards, police is now investigating claims that some managers in Armor Group, a city security firm demand bribes while recruiting workers.

Armor Group Rwanda is a registered and legally licensed security company in the country. The firm reportedly employs about one hundred and fifty Rwandans and is charged among other duties to protect U.S. properties.

Police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate confirmed that the investigation was targeting senior managers at Armor Group over persistent reports of bribery, favoritism and discrimination.

“There are reports that some leaders at Armor Group were demanding bribes before jobs were offered to workers. The guards also say there is discrimination among workers practiced by senior leaders,” CID chief, Costa Habyara said on phone yesterday.

He said the police had already forwarded the Armor Group file to Nyarugenge prosecution for action.

“Yes, we have done our part and it’s up to prosecution to put the company to task,” said Habyara, adding that the issue of bribery and discrimination had been communicated to the company’s Managing Director, Regis Arnold, two months ago.

“At that time he told us that those who had been practising discrimination and extorting money from the guards had been sacked,” Habyara said.

The firm is also accused of sacking its employees on short notice each time they raise the issue of unfairness rocking the company.

Sources within Armor Group who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of being victimised, said the company used to pay them half their salaries at the end of every month.

Recently one of the guards, Patrick Mpunga, walked into The New Times office in Kimihurura complaining that he and other guards were only receiving half of their salaries. The firm’s managers were reportedly angered by the story and later fired Mpunga for leaking information to journalists about his predicament.

The guards claim that before one gets promotion, he has to bribe his way through, a claim repeatedly denied by the company.

Armor Group began operations in 2006 and recruited most of its guards from Fody and KK security firms.

Our sources also claim that the security firm favors former guards from Fody Security and sidelines those from KK.  They claim Armor Group Managing Director, Regis Arnold used to work in Fody before he took up his current job.

“He is favoring people from Fody and purging those from KK Security. We want the police to investigate the salary disparity among the guards,” a former guard in charge of supervision said on condition of anonymity. He continued that the dismissed recruits were the most trained and experienced guards.

Mpunga had earlier claimed that there was an internal syndicate in the company that involved diverting part of the guards’ salaries to unknown paths before being deposited on their bank accounts, a claim repeatedly denied by Armor Group.

“I became a sacrificial lamb so that my colleagues could work in a better environment,” Mpunga had early said. When contacted yesterday, Regis was furious and said nobody was investigating or has ever probed his company over discrimination or bribery claims.
He said the police was telling lies. “People are not telling you the truth,” Regis said before he hang up the phone.

The Regional Security Officer at the American Embassy, Gregory Anderson also switched off his phone when contacted.

According to the payroll Arnold showed journalists early last month, however the company paid the guards on August, 20 and all had got paid except Mpunga who had a short-fall of Frw4, 000 which was paid later.

He added that some of the guards’ salaries delayed to reach their respective accounts because the concerned banks did not do their work in time.

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