UTC Founder Ayabatwa Alleges Rwandan Government Seeks Takeover of Union Trade Center

Founder Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa’s Bank Accounts Allegedly Illegally Frozen

JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — The following release comes from Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa, founder of the Union Trade Center.

Operators of the Union Trade Center (UTC) — Rwanda’s largest shopping mall — expressed deep concern on Thursday that the Rwandan government is allegedly engineering a hostile takeover of the premier retail hub after it froze the bank accounts of UTC founder Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa.

The Rwanda National Prosecuting Authority on Aug. 8 instructed Ayabatwa’s bank, Access Bank LTD, to freeze Ayabatwa and his wife Nathalie Mukagatete’s 12 accounts, citing an “ongoing criminal investigation.”

We believe the move is the first step toward a takeover of the UTC, one of Kigali’s largest privately owned and operated businesses. The shopping mall, which opened in 2006, is a major commercial center, home to 81 shops, restaurants and other businesses. It is valued at $20 million (USD).

Ayabatwa is the UTC founder and its largest shareholder.

David Himbara, senior advisor to Ayabatwa and the UTC, called the bank account closure illegal, unethical and unprovoked. The government, Himbara said, neither notified Ayabatwa of its plans to freeze the accounts nor did it allow for any legal recourse.

“There is no basis for this illegal act,” Himbara said. “The government is abusing its own laws to stop independent investment and take over one of the country’s most successful privately owned businesses.”

Himbara said the government has tried to allege that the UTC has been abandoned, citing a 2004 law that was enacted to address abandoned properties after the 1994 Rwanda genocide. That law, he said, gave the government the authority to seize property abandoned by individuals who fled the country during the tragedy.

“The government’s allegations are ridiculous,” Himbara said. “The UTC opened 12 years after the genocide. It is an excellent corporate citizen with five shareholders. To suggest it has been abandoned by its owners is laughable at best.”

Ayabatwa, who lives in South Africa, is a native Rwandan and successful Pan African businessman with interests throughout the continent in tobacco, cement, snack foods, tea, real estate and banking. He has invested millions of dollars in the Rwandan economy, provided scholarships to students and financed a local school, day care center and housing development.

For more information about Ayabatwa, his businesses and his philanthropy, go to: http://tribertrujugiro.com/

Contact: David Himbara: [email protected]; +27799173438


SOURCE Tribert Rujugiro Ayabatwa