Rwanda: Adventist Church Financial Fraud Suspect in Court

The New Times (Kigali)

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Eugene Mutara

A senior official of Rwanda Union Mission Seventh Day Adventist Church, Kigali, Abel Habiyambere has said that a person suspected to have withdrawn Frw 8.4million from the church's account last year in August has been dragged to court.

The suspect identified as Angelique Murekatete, reportedly scanned signatures of the two church's signatories using check leaflet numbered.

"The case is now in court. The bank filed a law suit against this suspect and she was arrested and actually the bank has accepted to refund us," Habiyambere told The New Times.

Recently, it was reported that officials of the Adventist church had walked to the CID offices in Kacyiru and recorded a statement that someone had embezzled their funds through the Banque Commerciale Du Rwanda (BCR), Kacyiru branch.

Murekatete withdrew money from account number 0000040-01-08 August last year at the bank, according to a statement recorded at CID.

Habiyambere, however, added that the bank filed a law suit and referred The New Times to the bank for details.

Byishimo Faustin, Retail Network Business Manager, who follows the case from the bank, declined to comment on the case but was quick to mention that a suspect had been arrested and the case is in court.

Byishimo said that the case has been filed in Nyarugenge court. When asked about the details of the case, Byishimo referred The New Times to the police since it carried out the investigations.

He also said that their client, Adventist church, would be in a better position to talk to the press whether the bank is planning to refund their money.

"This is very confidential. I cannot tell you what we discussed with the client. Since you had talked with our client previously, you can talk to him again," Byishimo said on phone.

However, the church's principal treasurer Habiyambere told The New Times that the bank had agreed to refund the Frw8.4 million stolen from.

BCR's Public Relations Officer at the time, Hannington Namara was quoted in June this year as saying that the bank will only assume responsibility if it is proven beyond doubt that it failed to undertake its obligations.

In a recent interview, Habiyambere said that the bank had been instructed by the church never to allow withdrawal of huge amounts of money from its account without its approval.

Police spokesman Marcel Higiro, over the weekend, told The New Times that the police has transferred the case to the prosecution after investigations. He however declined to mention the results accruing from the investigations.

The Deputy Prosecutor General, Alphonse Hitiyaremye, on Monday said that such crimes are usually carried out with the help of an insider from a bank.

"Not with this particular case, but many times there is a complicity of a suspect and someone in a bank," Hitiyaremye said.

Sources from the Adventist headquarters told The New Times that the church has been in talks with its General Assembly to reconsider a decision that had been made to cancel a donation of over US $1million for building a five storied building to house their headquarters.

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"After reading the story in The New Times that there were financial scandals in the church, the donors canceled the donations of over US $1million meant for the building, but I think they have resolved the issue now," the source said.

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