Rwanda: BRD Is Up For SalePaul Kagame needs cash, and he needs it now. Desperately. Now he’s selling Rwanda Development Bank (BRD), whose CEO Turatsinze he had to assassinate awhile ago in Mozambique. Yet, Kagame’s stated reason to raise capital for the bank is the very corruption culture that the late CEO was trying to eradicated before he was forced out. For more details on the sale of BRD, see http://www.busiweek.com/index1.php?Ctp=2&pI=816&pLv=3&srI=51&spI=26&cI=10.
Who is going to invest in such a bank with chronic problems? Plus, what country privatizes its development bank anyway? There are founded fears that the bank is under-capitalized and that its current capital requirements do not adequately take provisions for potential loan losses into consideration.
Kagame, the gambler:
Since BRD is obviously a tough sale, Kagame is likely to try and depress it to its core so that he can buy it for pennies. If things go according to plan and he manages to get a few more presidential terms, Kagame will claim to turn it around so he can pocket profits. In case he’s out of power and the state, the rightful owner, ceases the bank, he will not lose much because he will have bought it for pennies.
Notice that foreign shareholders have had to pull out of BRD because the political risk was simply too high. These foreign institutions, no longer represented on the board of directors are as follows: Agence Française de Développement (AFD); German Investment and Development Company (DEG); Dutch Finance Company for Developing Countries (FMO); State of Belgium through Administration Générale de la Coopération au Développement (AGCD); The Bank of Tokyo Ltd.
Kagame’s effort to raise capital from private sector is intended to compensate for capital lost when foreign investor redeemed their positions. We may never know for sure how these redemptions were honored because the bank itself did not have a lot of liquidity. Clearly, BRD had to take on debts from either from other State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), or Crystal Venture, the financing arm of the RPF tightly controlled by Kagame’s family. What is certain is that BRD is highly leveraged at present time.
The ghost of Theogene Turatsinze:
Theogene Turatsinze was a brilliant young Rwandan of mixed ethnicity, born of a Hutu father and a Tutsi mother. After undergraduate studies in Rwanda, he moved to Mozambique, “where he worked for several years”, then completed his studies with a Masters degree in management at the Australian Catholic University in Sydney. He returned to Rwanda, and became the Managing Director (CEO equivalent) of the BRD in 2005. During his tenure at BRD, it is believed that RPF ruling elites would try to take advantage of him as an outsider in order to refinance their debts at very low interest rates. They would overstate the value of their collateral assets, and lie about their true net worth. They wanted to get rich quick while dirtying Mr. Turatsinze and damaging his career. He would resist them, but they would bypass him and still appropriate funds from the bank through other managing committee members. In 2007, Theogene couldn’t take it anymore. He picked up and left. The official reason behind his departure is that was dismissed for having “disobeyed an order from the Finance Ministry to declare the BRD bankrupt.” Mr. Turatsinze moved once more to Mozambique, where he served as deputy rector of the São Tomãs de Moçambique Catholic University until he was murdered between October 11 and 15, 2012. His body was found in a lake, tied up.
It is believed that Kagame’s death squads murdered Turatsinze at a time when The Bank of Tokyo Ltd and other foreign investors had started carrying out an investigation into the financial troubles of BRD. He was a potential inconvenient witness against RPF regime. He had to be eliminated in an attempt to erase evidence.
The aftermath of Turatinze’s resignation:
Following Turatsinze’s dismissal, Alex Kanyankole, a Tutsi, was was brought into BRD from Crystal venture in order to destroy all evidence of the alleged funds misappropriation. Foreign shareholders left nonetheless. On a management committee of 9, Kanyankole’s deputies are all Tutsi insiders of RPF except one who is a hutu. In a country whose majority (over 80%) of population are hutus. It is a if Hutus have been excluded in finance schools around the world. Clearly, under Paul Kagame, the country is run under the old assumption that Tutsis are ‘born’ leaders, while Hutus are ‘born’ servants. No matter how you look at it, Rwanda today is once again a pressure cooker that’s waiting to explode. All Kagame is doing is holding the lid down, but that will not last. He mighty hand will run out of energy, release the lid, and – boom! – genocide again.
Kagame says he’s selling BRD because “the bank is mostly benefiting government officials leaving out BRD management which has not implemented projects as planned”. Notice that this was the same exact issue that the bank faced during Turatsinze’s tenure. The only difference is that at least Mr. Turatsinze, an outsider, could try and resist to RPF pressure, while the new “homogeneous” management team has little to no incentive resisting their own friends who hired them – not based on merit – but through nepotism, ethnic discrimination, and greed.
For details on BRD Management team, see https://www.brd.rw/?Bank-Management-15