Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has cautioned the youth against falling for fraudsters who promise easy wealth and fortune in exchange for payments.
The president was addressing hundreds of Rwandan youth on Wednesday, where he alluded to an incident in the capital Kigali last month in which more than 5,000 youth paid for a ‘wealth summit’ that did not take place
On July 25, more than 5,000 people thronged Kigali Convention Centre for the conference but were left stranded after no speakers turned up.
“Police went to the hotel where the individuals had planned this conference and found that the hotel did not know anything about it. They later found that an individual had registered to host a conference of 500 people. But the number that turned up was 5,000 people,” Kagame said.
“When the individual noticed that many people had turned up for the conference, he started collecting money from them, and they actually paid it. The ones who had borrowed, the ones who had nothing else, they all paid it. And there were others that had paid online.”
Rwanda’s National Prosecution Authority charged three Kenyans and on Rwandan with fraud over the ‘wealth conference’ that never came to pass. The charges could attract a possible sentence of up to three years in jail if they are found guilty.
The accused are Charles Chege Kinuthia, who claimed to be a “serial entrepreneur and investor" on posters in Kigali, Matipei Rachel Nashipai and Vivian Khisa Mutenyo, and Rwandan Mohamad Niyonkuru.
President Kagame said such individuals deceive the youth with promises of wealth but instead, get rich themselves after taking their victims’ money.
Rwandan prosecutors are accusing the suspects of sending an email promising over 1,000 people “free money” worth $197 by attending the conference.
The defence lawyer, Evode Kayitare, explained in court that the $197 was not promised money but a “value bonus” consisting of access to an online course that attendees would be given at the end of the conference.
He added that the event did not take off as planned because police had detained Mr Kinuthia a few minutes before he was scheduled to be on the podium.
The suspects were denied bail during their pre-trial hearing on July 31, 2019. Their trial date is yet to be communicated.