NPPA: Tough measures against public procurement related offenses and other financial crimes
Yanditswe na Imvaho Nshya
Rwanda’s economic growth could not have been the same in the absence of transparency, fairness, efficiency, accountability and zero tolerance to corruption in general and public procurement in particular.
This is powered by the government efforts to set regulatory institutions and audit mechanisms that have guaranteed that tax payer’s money is not misappropriated causing the country to lose billions of funds.
The National Public Prosecution Authority (NPPA) is a government enforcement institution that is constitutionally responsible for investigating and prosecuting all offenses committed throughout the country, including offenses related to public procurement.
According to the NPPA, illegal awarding of public tenders and other procurement related offenses are great impediments to development because public procurement stands as one of major avenues through which economic and public financial crimes are committed.
The law on public procurement provides fair justice for 6 offenses related to public procurement, namely the illegal awarding of public procurement, collusion with bidder, award of unjustified advantages during performance contracts, influence peddling in public procurement, diversion of fund allocation from intended public tenders to any other purpose and coercing procurement participation.
The Prosecutor General Aimable Havugiyaremye, confirms that NPPA is now more vigorous in making sure those accused of the aforementioned offenses are brought before justice, and believes that it is done for Rwandans’ well being and preparation of a better future of the country.
“The NPPA has strengthened its efforts to fight against procurement related offenses. Most of cases received are treated at hand through credible verdicts. We investigate not only on the nature of the offense committed but also on the property of suspects”, declares Havugiyaremye.
Efforts to counter public procurement related offenses
In the past six years, NPPA registered 102 cases related to unlawful awarding of public tenders; 25 of those cases were filed with courts and involved funds of approximately over 6 billion Rwandan francs.
During the same period, a total of 142 civil servants were prosecuted and 47 among them were convicted for having committed offenses in relation to public procurement.
According to the NPPA, public procurement related offenses are the third source of illicit proceeds among the top 10 financial crimes, after tax evasion and embezzlement of public funds respectively.
However the NPPA commends the implementation of legal and administrative measures like the use of technology (e-procurement), audit, detection, and reinforced investigative mechanisms which have significantly lessened the threat of awarding tenders illegally.
Successive public procurement reforms were put in place by the government in order to achieve the best value for public money covered by well controlled procurement standards.
Overview of the prosecution of economic and financial crimes
In the last six years, the NPPA registered 3,969 cases related to economic and financial crime, in which 2,562 of them were filed with courts, including 4,321 accused persons for the total of 47,168,783,926 Rwandan Francs of funds.
According to the NPPA, corruption leads the top five of financial crimes with 1,928 among the aforementioned cases registered in five years (see chart 1).
The NPPA has strengthened measures to ensure that corrupt officials are tracked down and prosecuted, ensured by the enhancement of its cooperation with other government institutions to advance the effectiveness and efficiency in prosecuting financial crimes.
According to the NPPA, it is important to increase capacity for scientific evidence in order to detect highly organized and concealed procurement related offenses and other economic and financial crimes, as they impact tremendously the national socioeconomic growth.
Law enforcement is extended to an international level whereby the NPPA works with foreign countries to seize and freeze stolen assets hidden abroad, and extradite criminals who have managed to flee the country.
In effort to trace and seize/freeze criminal assets hidden abroad, the NPPA has sent a number of requests to foreign countries including neighboring countries and other countries like Belgium, Canada, USA, Spain, Nigeria et-cetera.
The NPPA has also put special attention on cases involving mismanagement of social protection funds, in order to contribute to the success of Governmental welfare and social protection programs.
The NPPA continues to work with domestic public and private institutions, as well as regional and international networks, to cut back economic and financial crimes that put the Government into unnecessary losses.