TORONTO, ON /September 9, 2021/ Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa’s US$20 million Union Trade Centre (UTC) shopping mall continues to be subjected to all manner of bizarre legal maneuvers by the government of Rwanda. Months after losing the UTC case at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) the Rwanda government tried the case in Rwanda, convicting Abayabwa, Nick Watson and Annick Mutambuka to a 10-year prison term each. This legal gimmick will not deter Ayabatwa from robustly taking the UTC case to its logical conclusion of full recovery of his asset.
On June 24, 2021, a Rwandan court convicted Ayabatwa, Nick Watson, and Annick Mutambuka for embezzlement and sentenced them to a 10-year imprisonment in addition to RWF2,272,642,655 or US$2.2 million each. The Rwanda government pursued this legal maneuver after losing the UTC case at the EACJ. On November 28, 2020, EACJ ruled that the Rwandan government’s seizure of UTC in 2013 and the subsequent auctioning of the mall in 2017 at half of its price were illegal. EACJ ordered the Rwanda government to account for the rental and sale proceeds realized from the UTC and to compensate the owners of the mall for general damages. Both the complainant and the defendant appealed the court’s decision. Ayabatwa appealed the decision because UTC was not returned to him as its rightful owner. Under no circumstances will this basic right be compromised.
The latest maneuver by the government of Rwanda is preposterous. What we are witnessing here is a government that illegally grabbed an asset of a citizen, auctioned it for less than half of its price, lost a case in a court of law, appealed the case, and retried the case in a domestic court. Ayabatwa will have none of this, as he explained:
“It is now eight years since the Rwandan government illegally seized my business. But we are patient. As is often said, the wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. UTC shopping mall will be reclaimed by its rightful owners in accordance with the rule of law. That is why we appealed the EACJ judgment even though the Court ruled in our favour. The truth always prevails.”
About Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa
Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa is a successful entrepreneur, business leader, and philanthropist from Rwanda. Ayabatwa is the founder and controlling shareholder of the Pan African Tobacco Group, Africa’s largest indigenous manufacturer of tobacco products. The company, which recently celebrated its 40th year of operations, manufactures cigarettes in nine African countries including Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United Arab Emirates. Ayabatwa is also one of Africa’s leading philanthropists. He has helped communities uplift themselves in fields such as education, food security, afforestation, and water-access. Through his non-profit foundation, Ayababwa strives to help young people to gain the practical engineering experience required to enter the job market in Africa. He has also supported governmental efforts in the fight against the Covid19 pandemic.
PanAfrican Tobacco Group
SOURCE: Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa
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