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RRA staff under investigation over illegal tax exemption

Police investigations into abuse of taxation processes and systems has unearthed how some Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) employees connive with fraudsters in bypassing digital systems to evade taxes.

In an interview with the Commanding Officer (CO) of Revenue Protection Unit (RPU), Senior Supt. Alphonse Businge, investigations into the malpractices came to light as police followed a lead into a suspected corruption case.

“One person came to us claiming that she was being overcharged on vehicle taxes. She had sold off her vehicle that was once a cab, and in the process of transfer of ownership, she contact a broker to process the paperwork,” Senior Supt. Businge.

The broker identified as Andre Ntarundenga agreed to the deal and later returned to the clients and informed her that vehicle had an income tax debt amounting to Rwf320, 000.

Ntarundenga tried to convince her that at only Rwf250, 000, the debt would be cleared and papers on transfer of ownership processed.

The would-be victim, on suspecting something dubious, she notified the police, which started following the case.

According to preliminary investigations, Ntarundenga had connived with one Eugenie Uwayezu, an employee of RRA who was handling the filing of transfer of ownership to manipulate the system and to defraud her.

How the system is manipulated

It is alleged that Uwayezu worked with some people within the revenue IT departments to temporarily erase the tax debt on the Toyota carina RAB 406F so that the system could authorize the issuance of a new logbook, which they did.

Normally, for the new logbook to be processed, the system first detects that there is no the automobile has no debt registered in the system.

However, it is said that the IT staff first erase the tax debt, which allows the system to process the logbook, and after which they enter the debt back into the system. Through this way, the money paid by the person seeking the transfer of ownership is embezzled.

“We are investigating this specific case, but also other similar fraudulent cases that might have gone undetected,” said SSP Businge.

“Actually investigations have revealed that the actual tax debt was Rwf97, 000 contrary to Rwf320, 000.”

SSP Businge warned that whoever is involved will eventually be brought to book and that consequences related to tax evasion or conspiracy to tax evasion are so high.

Reacting to the matter, the Deputy Commissioner for Taxpayer Services Department, Drocelle Mukashyaka advised taxpayers to avoid using brokers whenever they are processing any taxation documents unless they are officially authorized to do so.

“This is an isolated case, and the only one of the kind, which fortunate enough was also intercepted due to the partnership we have with Rwanda National Police through RPU. However, we encourage the public to always ensure they have proper paperwork. There is no service that is delivered without supporting documents or digital proof that the payment was done in an appropriate way,” she said.

With the help of RPU, the tax collection body has managed to recover billions of money that would otherwise have been lost in the process.

Uwayezu is accused of conspiracy in tax evasion, a crime punishable with a prison sentence of up to two years and a fine equal to evaded taxes under article 369 of the penal code.

Under article 643 of the same law stipulates that “any employee who unlawfully accords or exempts fees, duties, taxes, fines, security and other required fees, gives free of charge or at a lower price, the delivery of public or private goods, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment of six months to two years and a fine of two to ten times the value of the exemption, the value of goods delivered free of charge or at a lower price or one of these penalties.”

Jimirasire

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