Kigali: Auction of Rwigaras’ tobacco company, the family says “it’s illegal”

Kigali: Auction of Rwigaras’ tobacco company, the family says “it’s illegal”
15-03-2018 | By Karegeya Jean Baptiste | Hit 706 | Comment

Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has announced it will auction tobacco stocks of the Premier Tobacco Company Ltd, a factory owned by the family of late Assinapol Rwigara, one of Rwanda’s richest families.

According to Igihe.com, the auction of unspecified tobacco quantity is set for 28th March, 2018 at the factory located in Gikondo industrial area in Kigali in order to recover tax arrears, according to an announcement by a bailiff, Mr. Védaste Habimana.

“As requested by RRA and after reviewing the tax-establishing decisions given to Premier Tobacco Company Ltd; with an intention to recover tax arrears, the professional bailiff announces to the general public that there will be an auction of tobacco stock of Premier Tobacco Company Ltd on Wednesday 28/03/2018,” reads part of the statement released yesterday and signed by lawyer Védaste Habimana.

Details of the stock quantity and amount of arrears remain unrevealed but bailiff Habimana has referred IGIHE to RRA for further details.

Speaking to VAO, Anne Rwigara says that the auction is illegal, as long as the trial did not take place. The factory was closed since 2017, as well as bank accounts, according to Anne Rwigara.

The revenue authorities accuse the Rwigara family of engaging in tax evasion and there are reports the authorities are targeting the posh family mansion in Kiyovu among the properties to be sold off to cover the tax liability.

The Rwigara’s are some of Rwanda’s richest families and have a dealership of Premier Tobacco, posh residential properties land and vehicles.

In November 2017, the family said that the charges are politically motivated and aimed at silencing their criticism of government and to bankrupt them. In a court session, the family business representative Anne Rwigara, told judges that tax authorities had tried to force her to sign a payment plan that she found impossible to abide by.

The payment plan, she said, demanded that the family pay up to Rwf6 billion ($7 million) in 12 months, even though the RRA had closed their tobacco company — their main source of income — over tax evasion claims.

Rwigara’s family was once a strong ally of the party in power, but in the early 2000s, Rwigara was distant with his liberator, because of political differences. He died in a traffic accident (according to the police) in February 2015, and the family claims he was murdered.

In September of the same year, his hotel in Kiyovu was demolished on the order of the city of Kigali, for technical security reasons. Diane Rwigara, tried to compete with the party in power in the elections, and disqualified; she founded a People’s Salvation Movement (MSP ITABAZA).

For the moment, she in pink prisoners, like her mother Adeline Rwigara Mukangemanyi.

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