Rwandan business tycoon, Tribert Rujugiro, has been barred from leaving London by British authorities on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by the South African Prosecution Service for alleged tax evasion.
Rujugiro has substantial business interests– especially in the Tobacco field– in South Africa and all sub-Saharan countries, Libya, UK and Dubai.
He was arrested by police on arrival at Heathrow Airport on October 13 but applied for bail which he received three days later.
Speaking to The New Times on phone Saturday from London, Rujugiro said that he was ordered not to leave the country until a UK magistrate’s court could rule on an extradition request from South Africa.
“The South Africans have requested for at least 45 days to put together their case, in the meantime, I cannot leave,” ha revealed.
He said that his woes with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) began in June 2005 over tax related issues. A case was brought against him but the prosecution kept postponing the case.
“They postponed the trial 10 times because they had a weak case. They were just buying time,” he claimed.
“In June 2008, in order to have some peace of mind, I instructed my lawyer to negotiate an out-of-court-settlement. It concluded that I pay a certain amount,” Rujugiro explained.
“Both parties were supposed to sign the agreement on October 3, but when my lawyer from Belgium arrived for the signing, the prosecutor changed his mind; he would only sign on condition that I first plead guilty. I refused because I believe I am not guilty.”
“A renewed agreement was reached two days later, but I was surprised when, on arrival at Heathrow, I found the police waiting for me,” he said.
He continued saying that those after him were exerting pressure in a bid to extort money from him.
The businessman named his competitors as the main cause of his troubles. He suspects the tobacco giant, British American Tobacco (BAT) as being one of them.
“It is well-known that a prosecutor of the Eastern Rand Province is on BAT’s payroll,” he accused.
Tribert Rujugiro is the driving force behind Rwanda Investment Group (RIG) a local conglomerate made up of local business persons. RIG has invested heavily in several major projects in the country.