Rwigara family tobacco stock sold at Rwf512m

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Anne Rwigara, representative of business at the Premier Tobacco Company at the auction

A total of 7,195 cartons of Assinapol Rwigara family tobacco factory have been auctioned at Rwf512 million amidst family discontentment.

The auction took place at Gikondo industrial area at the ‘Premier Tobacco Company Ltd’ premises on Wednesday.

The court bailiff Védaste Habimana opened the auction asking price of Rwf433,727,966 and the tobacco was finally bought by Murado Business LTD.

Present at the auction was Anne Rwigara, late Assinapol Rwigara’s daughter who is also in charge of the factory’s operations and his brothers.

The family was not contented with the value that was given to their properties. They said that the tobacco had a value of around Rwf1 billion.

Anne Rwigara requested the court bailiff to suspend the auction as stated by law when property owner is not satisfied with the value at the first day.

Anne said that they still have the case filed at Nyarugenge Commercial Court, requiring for suspension of the auction.

“It is not necessary to sign a cheque. A case has been filed in court to stop this auction and as you know today at 2:00pm there is a hearing. As you also know that property owners are allowed to reject the value when they are not contented. We as Rwigara family reject this offer,” she said.

The court bailiff told the family that the auction was conducted legally and if they are not satisfied they should go to court.

“I’m the one heading the auction, we are not in the court, if you have any concern about the auction go to court. I have nothing else to argue with you,” he said.

The stocks of the tobacco were seized last year by Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) to recover tax Rwf6 billion arrears that they claim the factory owe the government.

Auctioned were different types of tobacco including Premier Filter (5553 cartons); Filter Star (1033 cartons); Filter Star King (328 cartons); Premier Super Menthol (191cartons) and Filter Star Soft (90 cartons). Each carton contains 5000 pieces of tobacco making a total of over 35 million pieces

Rwigara’s family has rejected the tax evasion charges, describing them as “politically motivated” and aimed at sending the family into “bankruptcy” for opposing the government.

Their family says the trouble started last year after Rwigara announced she would challenge Kagame in the presidential election.

Two days after declaring her candidacy, nude photographs allegedly of her were leaked on social media.

It was not clear who was behind the leak.

She was then disqualified from running over allegations that she forged some of the signatures on her nomination papers. She denied that allegation

Police arrested her in September along with her mother. Both women have been charged with inciting insurrection against the state and Rwigara also has been charged with forgery.

Earlier this year, the Rwigara family filed a case in the Commercial Court in Kigali, accusing the tax body of illegally seizing the company’s bank accounts and assets.

The family told the court that the tobacco plant’s computers, account books and warehouses had been seized, making it difficult for the business to operate.

The court ruled in the favour of Rwanda’s Revenue Authority, saying the seizure was done legally.

Kagame is praised by some U.S. and British leaders, who cite how he has transformed an impoverished, war-ravaged nation into an efficient technology hub with some of the highest rates for literacy and health in Africa.

That has come at the cost of a dictatorship that critics say ruthlessly suppresses opposition and often jails, disappears or kills opponents.

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