Italia Solidale for audit: Supreme Court

KIGALI - The Supreme Court has ordered for an immediate audit of Italia Solidale, to establish the alleged mismanagement of funds meant for orphans by the latter’s managers.
Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga
Prosecutor General Martin Ngoga

KIGALI - The Supreme Court has ordered for an immediate audit of Italia Solidale, to establish the alleged mismanagement of funds meant for orphans by the latter’s managers.

“Yes, we have got someone who is going to carry out the audit. He is beginning the work very soon,” said the Secretary General of the Supreme Court, Anne Gahongayire, who confirmed the audit yesterday.

The embattled NGO was set up in1997 by two priests; Father Anaclet Mwumvaneza attached to Saint Famille Catholic Church in Kigali, and Father Anthony Kambanda former head of Nyakibanda Seminary in Butare. The NGO was to help over 2,000 orphans left vulnerable after the 1994 Genocide.
However, Italia Solidale intended beneficiaries are now accusing those in charge of the Church-affiliated NGO of allegedly using orphans as a means of raising billions of francs for their own enrichment.

In 2006, guardians of the orphans petitioned the Supreme Court to institute an independent audit to unearth the alleged scam.

Some of the beneficiaries had in the past alleged that the parent NGO, Roma Italia Solidale, could have sent about Frw1.8 billion to Rwanda between 1997 and 2003, for the orphans, but there are little activities on the ground to show that the funds were put to use.

Earlier on, one guardian Jean Baptiste Ndoriyobigya, who represents beneficiaries living around Kigali, said that ‘ghost’ orphans and children from well-to-do families reportedly benefited from the funds before the account was frozen in November last year.

In 2006, the national police arrested Gerald Ndamage and Faustin Ngendahayo, leaders of Rwanda Italia Solidale and dragged them to court but were later released on bail pending investigations into their case.

Both Father Anthony Kambanda and Ndamage have in the past denied any wrongdoing. Details of how the NGO spent the money are not clear to date.

There are allegations that some of the leaders diverted the funds since there was no mechanism in place to check the spending.  The Mayor of Nyarugenge district, Origene Rutayisire, had in November 2007 issued a directive that Italia Solidale activities be halted because the NGO was operating illegally.

In a letter signed by the mayor, and addressed to the director of Union de Caisse de Travailleurs (UCT), the bankers of the NGO, he requested that their bank accounts be frozen until investigations could be carried out. Gahongayire had also earlier assured the beneficiaries that the audit would be done in a transparent and honest manner to satisfy everybody. However, she declined to name the new audit firm.

Last month, Gahongayire said court had overturned a decision to award the tender to two audit firms namely, Ernest & Young and Offre Technigue et Financiere.

It was reported that the two firms could not carry out the work because the bidding process used for the selection was marred by lack of transparency.The bidding exercise conducted by Nyarugenge court reportedly defied the rules and lacked fair competition by potential contractors and did not follow the normal tendering process.

Supreme Court Director of Administration and Finance, William Rukundo, said Ernest & Young had submitted a bid of Frw12 million while Offre Technigue et Financiere suggested Frw15million to carry out the work.

The Supreme Court later re-advertised the tender inviting other firms to audit the NGO.