Six employees of the Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) have been arrested over embezzlement of public funds and use of counterfeit documents.
Police spokesperson ACP Theos Badege confirmed the arrests to Rwanda Today. The police carried out investigations into RAB for a period of time.
“On December 28, 2017, six suspects working at RAB were arrested over alleged use of counterfeit documents and embezzlement during the execution of the budget for financial year 2016-2017. They used forged orders to get mission allowances,” said ACP Badege.
He said that added that under Article 325 of the Penal Code, the suspects face a jail sentence of between five to seven years, if found guilty, while the use of counterfeit documents which is an offence under Article 614 is punishable by a jail sentence of between seven to ten years including fines.
A source at RAB confirmed that the police had been frequenting the board’s premises for a while although nobody seemed to be aware of their mission.
The source added the arrests have left an atmosphere of panic at the institution because there are indications that the probe is ongoing.
Workers believe the arrests are connected to the last year’s arrival of new director-general, Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, who has a reputation for a no-nonsense approach to corruption.
Dr Cyubahiro did not respond to repeated calls from Rwanda Today.
The minister of Agriculture Geraldine Mukeshimana confirmed the arrests although she could not provide any further details.
“I know about the arrests, but I am not in a position to give any details at the moment” said Ms Mukeshimana.
RAB has been on the spot especially after the Auditor-General highlighted in his last two reports waste and financial mismanagement at RAB totalling Rwf1.9 billion ($2.2 million).
A recent auditor-general’s report showed milk equipment meant to be used at collection centres in Mukarange, Ngarama and Rwimiyaga, Karushunga and worth Rwf88,540,311 ($103,592) lay unused for two years.
Other agricultural machines like potato harvesters, power tillers, rice transplanters and combine harvesters worth Rwf50,990,901 ($59,659) were left idle for almost seven years.
Information from the irrigation and mechanisation department at the Ministry of Agriculture showed some idle tractors have been auctioned off generating up to Rwf160 million ($187,200).
Although it has taken a bit long, it seems the authorities are finally taking action on these cases. They have mounted an operation to catch public servants who mismanage or swindle public funds.
Other arrests have been made recently in other government parastatals like Rwanda Social Security Board and the Rwanda Biomedical Centre.