Ben Oostdam story # 314
AQUACULTURE IN RWANDA REVISITED
This is an update of the chronology of Chris Thorpe's
trials and tribulations which he experienced in dealing
with the Government of Rwanda.
Please refer to previous postings for background information:
GONE FISHIN’ s.a. / KIGEMBE FARM
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
(Please note: All ‘Acts of Bad Faith’ are highlighted [in the original version only, BLO]
and all entries are supported by ‘hard copy’ documentation.)
1. * August 1996 Through December 1997 – Gone Fishin’ s.a. (GF) completes research
and proposal development phase (real cash and in kind investments totaling
US$205,365. Research includes analysis of local financing environment.
Several bank officials indicate that all aspects of the loan application process
(interest rate, amortization period, etc.) are negotiable.
Additionally, investment incentives and loan guarantee programs are said
to be in the offing within one year.
2. * January 1998 Through October 1999 – GF competes for and is awarded the
former National Fish Station at Kigembe in an early round of Government’s
GF’s intention to utilize local financial and human resources in converting
the fish station into a commercially viable integrated fish farm is explicitly
stated in its business proposal to the Privatisation Secretariat.
3. * October 1998 Through April 1999 – GF (Christopher Thorne) negotiates and
signs a Government drafted 15 year lease agreement. (Donald Kaberuka,
Minister for Finance)
GF’s request for a 30 years lease is reduced to 15 years by a Cabinet decision
described by Government’s representatives as, “non negotiable”.
GF discovers after lease signing that leases of less than 18 years cannot be used
as loan collateral.
Government also tasks GF with contracting for an independent survey of Kigembe
Farm boundaries, ponds and outbuildings.
4. * May 1999 - GF pays 1st annual lease payment and immediately begins
rehabilitation of Kigembe Fish Farm providing employment for 156 agricultural
workers and artisans. Daily pay rates were directly negotiated and were
substantially higher than the minimum wage requirements for workers in
both of these categories.
Local banks introduce non-negotiable requirements for either internal (Government)
or external (international) bank loan guarantees or blocked accounts
representing 40% to 50% of the requested loan amount. The banks further inform GF
that Rwandan law requires that leases for less than a period of 18 years
cannot be used as collateral.
5. * Mid October 1999 – GF completes the 1st phase of Kigembe Fish Farm
Rehabilitation Action Plan [operational water systems and electrical power restored,
7 of 32 production ponds repaired and stocked (35,000+ Tilapia, Clarias and Carp)
purchase and installation of breeding stock (pigs, ducks, chickens)].
GF funded independent survey of KF completed. GF corporate resources are exhausted.
6. * Late October 1999 – President Director General, (Alfred Kalisa)
Banque de Commerce, de Development et d’Industrie (BCDI) offers GF full financing
if the Ministry for Agriculture will provide a, “Letter of Comfort” regarding
Kigembe Fish Farm’s viability as a commercial enterprise and writes to
MinAg requesting same.
7. * End October 1999 – GF forced to make 60% staff reduction, stalling reconstruction
efforts. Remaining staff was advised that only partial payments of salaries would be
made until financing is secured.
8. * Early November 1999 – After fielding a senior level team to Kigembe Fish Farm,
MinAg (Ephraim Kabaija) provides BCDI with the requested, “Letter of Comfort”
accompanied by an executive summary that conservatively projects the farm’s gross
annual income to be in excess of US$250,000.
BCDI initiates a practice of extending the loan application process by changing
and adding prerequisite requirements one at a time.
9. * End December 1999 – Vice President (Paul Kagame) visits and takes a tour
of the entire farm. He is advised of the severe financial situation and says to the
senior Government officials and assembled farm staff that:
"A project like this must not die.” GF ‘scrambles’ for financing to keep the farm
operational by; harvesting/selling fish, aggressively searching for private investors,
initiating a GF capitalization drive, using GF Director’s personal finances,
securing personal loans.
10. * February 2000 – GF forced to break off negotiations when President Director
General of BCDI presents the GF Director and the Rector (Emile Rwamasirabo) of
the National University of Rwanda at Butare (UNRB) with a requirement that
both parties find totally impossible to accept without violating the trust
of the organizations that they represent.
11. * March 2000 – Banque Rwandaise de Developpement (BRD) (Edith Gasana)
reiterates its willingness to approve a loan with a Government guarantee.
GF dispatches a letter to Vice President Kagame requesting a Government
guarantee for its US$486,000 loan request. No response.
12. * April 2000 – The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning indicates
his willingness to guarantee the loan if UNRB become a partner of GF at Kigembe.
13. * May 2000 – GF and UNRB formally agree that, immediately upon the successful
award of the full loan amount, UNRB will become a 20% shareholder in GF at no cost
to either Government or UNRB.
14. * June 2000 – Minister for Finance informs Director, GF that MinFin is unable
to provide the requested loan guarantee. GF applies for a US$250,000 agricultural
loan from the USA’s Food Security Monetization program.
USAID Director (Richard Goldman) rejects the loan request expressing a preference
for grants over loans. (Note: All of the aquaculture projects subsequently funded
with USAID grants failed.)
15. * August 2000 – GF Director advises the Minister for Finance by letter that
GF must immediately withdraw from the Kigembe Fish Farm.
On 21 August, releases the majority of Kigembe Farm staff with a distribution
of tools, livestock, livestock and GF Letters of Indebtedness amounting to more
than FRW13 million. Nearly FRW30 million in fish and livestock are lost to the farm.
The Minister for Finance convenes a meeting with GF, MinFin and BRD senior staff.
GF is informed that BRD, upon completion of a FAO consultant evaluation,
is prepared, with an assist of US$250,000 in USAID, ‘seed money’, to approve
a loan for US$500,000 at 8% interest.
16. * September 2000 – BRD’s FAO subsistence fish farming expert after a 45 minute
site visit, ignores GF’s substantive written response to his highly questionable
verbal conclusions about the farm’s production capability, submits a conflicted
final report that recommends a loan of between FRW95 and FRW100 million.
There is literally no support in his report for the recommended loan amount.
17. * October 2000 – At a meeting with the Minister for Finance, BRD requests
that GF provide a comprehensive cash flow analysis within 7 working days in order
to meet a USAID deadline for the use of US$250,000 of their, ‘seed money’ that
will allow BRD to provide full financing at between 8% and 9%.
GF provides the requested document 5 days later. No response from Government
or BRD despite repeated GF requests.
18. * December 2000 – The Executive Director, Privatisation Secretariat, MinFin
(Robert Bayagamba) advises GF that BRD, with a collateral guarantee from Government,
is prepared to lend GF some FRW95 million (approximately US$220,000) representing
45% of GF’s loan request at 16%. GF is also informed that Cabinet Technical Committee
approval of the collateral guarantee is required prior to the proposal being submitted
to the full cabinet for final consideration.
19. * January 2001 – GF is informed that the Cabinet Technical Committee has approved
the collateral guarantee and that the Minister for Finance is prepared to take the
proposal to the full Cabinet. GF advises Privatisation Secretariat that it will be
impossible for GF to remain at Kigembe Fish Farm past 12 March, 2001 without
a specific letter of commitment from BRD that the FRW95 million loan is approved
and that the funds will be made available to GF on or before 30 March, 2001.
20. * Early March 2001 – Full Cabinet approves collateral loan guarantee for
GF / Kigembe Farm Loan. Director, Privatisation Secretariat provides GF with a letter
promising that transfer of funds will occur no later than 30 March, 2001.
Director, GF meets with Kigembe Farm workers and schedules a 09 April 2001 meeting
to plan the resumption of Kigembe Farm rehabilitation.
USAID expresses surprise that BRD is lending GF 95 million after telling them some
7½ months earlier that Kigembe Farm was, “… not a bankable project.”
USAID verbally indicates to Director, Privatisation Secretariat that US$120,000
is still available for a loan to GF for Kigembe Farm rehabilitation.
Director Privatisation Secretariat is unsuccessful in arranging a meeting
between GF, USAID and BRD Directors to arrange for a signing of a loan agreement
and the transfer of funds. The GF Director recommends that first,
in order to avoid further delays, the BRD/GF loan agreement be signed
and the FRW95 million transfer be effected immediately and the loan, ‘rolled over’,
at between 4% and 5% if and when the USAID funds actually become available.
The USAID funds are never made available.
21. * Early April 2001 – The Minister for Finance has not yet provided his final
signature authorizing disbursement of the loan guarantee collateral funds.
GF Director reschedules meeting with workers for 16 April 2001 and,
in the absence of loan funds, borrows FRW2 million to restart Kigembe Farm operations.
BRD presents GF with a notification of approval of the FRW95 million loan
at 15% interest to be amortized over an 8-year period with an 18-month grace period.
After GF pays BRD a FRW720,000 commission, the BRD/GF loan contract is signed
and notarized. GF Director meets with farm worker makes an, ‘across the board’,
salary payment, briefs staff on the positive change in the financial situation
and schedules work to restart on 15 April 2001.
22. * Mid April 2001 – The Minister for Finance for Finance signs the letter
guaranteeing BRD’s FRW95 million loan to GF. GF requests BRD Director and staff
visit Kigembe Farm at the earliest opportunity. GF reopens Kigembe Fish Farm and
begins the clean up and repair necessitated by 7 months of forced inactivity
23. * End April 2001 – After 7 week delay, on the day GF Director arrives to
receive the loan cheque, the Director, BRD, in the first of several ex post facto
pronouncements, informs him that there are to be 3 non-negotiable changes in the
administration and repayment of the loan.
First, the loan is to be disbursed in 3 installments. BRD’s Director,
Investments Division (Jean Pierre Rubalika) assures GF that once 70% expenditure
of an installment is verified, the next installment will be disbursed in no more
than 10 calendar days. Second, the 18 months, “grace period” is redefined as a :
“limited grace period” requiring GF to begin monthly payments on the 15% interest
with immediate effect. This effectively reduced GF’s working capital from 45% of
the amount originally budgeted for complete rehabilitation to approximately 38%
over the 18 month, “limited grace period”. Third, to receive the first
installment, the GF Director must determine the amount required and indicate
the general budget areas.
It is agreed that, given the short notice that GF is allowed to exercise,
‘line item flexibility’ in the overall expenditure of funds provided under the loan.
GF agrees to the revisions, determines the 1st installment requirement and areas
of anticipated expenditure and BRD issues a cheque to GF for FRW22.5 million.
24. * Mid July 2001 – GF provides BRD with the written financial and progress
reporting within the format agreed upon between BRD Director, Investments Division
and GF in April 2001. GF requests disbursement of 2nd loan installment.
GF Director’s invitation to conduct site visits to Kigembe Farm is reiterated.
25. * End July 2001 – BRD project officer makes first site visit to Kigembe Farm.
This is the first site visit by BRD staff since late October 1999.
Project Officer rejects mutually agreed upon reporting format and introduces
new format. GF resubmits Kigembe Farm financial report.
26. * August 2001 - Ignoring an agreement between Government and GF,
the Privatization Secretariat’s Information Officer and his staff arranged to arrive,
with no prior notification, at KF on a weekend when the Director and the
Deputy Director for Administration and Marketing had scheduled a trip to Kigali.
They proceeded to spend the weekend at the farm filming and interviewing
2 subordinate staff members for a TVR presentation that was aired nationally
in October 2001. The narrative voice over and interview with a senior member
of the Ministry For Agriculture and the Executive Director of Privatisation
contain numerous errors, untrue statements and editorial comments that can only
be described as disingenuous, if not libelous. The Director, GFSA met with the
Executive Director of Privatisation shortly after the first airing,
expressed our several concerns in detail and was promised that a second filming
would take place in which all the errors contained in the offending first effort
would e corrected. No such action has ever taken place.
27. * 20 August 2001 – GF expresses disappointment and concern over BRD’s failure
to respond to GF’s request for a second installment.
28. * 21 August 2001 – GF invites BRD representatives to attend GF General assembly.
29. * 24 August 2001 – After 5 weeks of delay, BRD disburses 2nd installment.
30. * 31 August – GF distributes Kigembe Farm Progress Report update
to Government and BRD.
31. * 13 September 2001 – GF advises BRD of need to amend GF statutes to allow for
BRD representation of the Conseil d’Administration.
32. * 17 September 2001 – GF provides BRD and Government with a 3-year income
projection for Kigembe Farm.
33. * Early October 2001 – During site visit BRD Project Officer advises GF that:
“…in order to show progress…” the 3rd installment cannot be disbursed
unless 28 production ponds are completely rehabilitated and are operational.
This ex post facto non-negotiable requirement represents a radical and
unnecessary departure from the GF action plan and, as such,
totally disrupts rehabilitative work in progress.
34. * Mid October Through Mid December 2001 – Director, Privatisation Secretariat,
Ministry for Finance and Economic Planning proposes that the Community Development
Committee (CDC) Kibingo invest a possible grant from USAID in the rehabilitation
of Kigembe Farm in return for a full partnership with GF.
The GF counterproposal is that, in return for a straightforward, ‘hard currency’
investment, the investor or group would be entitled to receive 20% of Kigembe Farm
net profits for the 13 years remaining on our lease agreement.
Government took no further action in this matter despite repeated expressions
of interest by GF.
35. * 25 October 2001 – BRD accuses Director, GF of misappropriation of funds.
BRD neither acknowledges receipt of nor responds to the GF Director’s
written rebuttal to this libelous charge.
36. * 13 November 2001 - GF provides BRD with the written financial and progress
reporting and requests disbursement of what is supposed to be the third and final
loan installment. BRD rejects mutually agreed upon financial reporting format
and in yet another ex post facto non-negotiable requirement, introduces a new format.
37. * 29 November 2001 – GF resubmits financial reporting using the new format.
38. * 12 December 2001 – After 4 weeks of delay, BRD disburses a 3rd installment
of RwF39.5 million and advises GF that, contrary to the April 2000 agreement,
the balance will be disbursed as a 4th installment.
39 * Mid February 2002 – GF opens dialogue with the Nairobi, Kenya-based
Kijani Biodiversity Investment Group, a subsidiary of the IFC / IMF - WB (???)
regarding their possible financing all or substantial part of the outstanding
US$269,000 KF budgetary requirement.
40. * April 2002 – GF provides BRD and Government with the 1st independent
audit of GF. No acknowledgement or response from either addressee.
41. * 21 May 2002 – On schedule, GF opens a retail shop adjacent to the central
market in Butare town and begins to sell fish, small livestock, honey and guava
on a regular twice a week schedule. This shop remains open until late January 2003
when GF is forced to withdraw from Kigembe Farm. No BRD or Government official
ever visited this facility despite numerous invitations.
42. * 21 June 2002 - GF provides BRD with the written financial and progress
reporting and requests disbursement of the fourth and final loan installment.
43. * 02 July 2002 – African Development Bank (AFDB) Aquaculture Evaluation Mission
(Samba Tounkara) visits Kigembe Farm. After extensive discussion, AFDB commends
GF ‘s management approach and rehabilitation work.
The Mission delegates express an interest in Kigembe Farm providing 8 million
fingerlings annually over an extended period of time in support of a national
program designed to restock all of the major lakes, rivers and ponds in Rwanda.
Interest was also expressed in using Kigembe Farm’s training facility to prepare
Rwandan fisherfolk to move from subsistence into commercial fish farming activities.
At RwF20 per 20 gram fingerling, KF would be guaranteed an annual gross income
of RwF160 million (approximately US$400,000) for the remaining 12 years of their lease.
44. * 18 August 2002 – Minister for Finance and Economic Planning visits Kigembe Farm.
The Minister praises GF for the good work done at Kigembe and expresses his relief
that GF and BRD have resolved their problems. When informed that rehabilitation and
transformation of KF was achieved in spite of rather than in productive collaboration
with BRD and a financial crisis is imminent, Minister Kaberuka asks that the Director,
GF provide him with a detailed exposé of the situation by letter.
He also asks the Director, GF to provide studies that address the potential for
fish farming in Rwanda.
45. * 22 August 2002 – BRD, after ignoring numerous verbal, written and email requests
from GF, disburses the final installment of RwF14.75 million as requested by GF
8 weeks earlier.
46. * 23 August 2002 – Director, GF delivers a letter to Minister Kaberuka
referring him to a 1998 FAO study entitled, “REORGANIZATION OF FISHERIES AND FISH
FARMING IN RWANDA”, with copies of the letter to the Privatisation Secretariat and BRD.
In this letter GF refers to the ADB’s tentative proposal and expresses the wish
to become an integral part of any restocking and training programs that might develop.
47. * 06 September 2002 – Director, GF hand delivers letter requested by Minister
Kaberuka to his office and provides copies to the Privatisation Secretariat and BRD.
This letter also contains a request for a meeting between Minister Donald Kaberuka,
Ms. Edith Gasana, Director General of BRD and Mr. Christopher Thorne, Director, GF.
There is no response to the GF request from either Government or BRD.
48. * 21 November 2002 – Chief Delegate, ADB advises Director, GF that the ADB
Appraisal Report has been sent to the Minister For Finance and Economic Planning.
It is informally reported in Rwanda that, based upon the KF evaluation, the ADB
has offered Government a US$20 million ‘soft loan’ to support the proposed
restocking and training programs.
49. * Late November 2002 – At a meeting at USAID, Kigali, FAO Subsistence Fish
Farming Expert, Benoit Abeke, categorically reverses his original negative evaluation
of Kigembe Farm.
50. * 16 December 2002 – Director, GF formally advises Government that, in the absence
of any substantive response to the GF letter of 06 September 2002,
GF is forced to withdraw from both Kigembe Farm and the lease agreement it has with
Government on 15 January 2003. GF also formally requests that an Arbitration Group
be formed in accordance with its lease with Government. There is no response to the
GF request from Government.
51. * 21 December 2002 – Without prior notification of any kind, two individuals,
an accountant and a university trained aqua-culturist with no experience in
commercial fish farming, present themselves in Butare town with letters from
the Privatization Secretariat and the National Tender Board containing terms
of reference that include; auditing KF accounts, evaluating KF productivity
and developing a 3 year strategic plan for KF.
Director GF recommends that, first, the accountant should review and copy
our financial reporting to BRD and Privatisation. Second, that their consultant
firm find an aqua-culturist with first hand experience in commercial fish farm management.
52. * Early January 2003 – Director, Privatization Secretariat requests that
GF postpone its withdrawal from KF until 15 February 2003. Director, GF agrees providing
that Government accepts responsibility for paying the on site security force during
the 30 day extension. Further, that representatives of Government and BRD are made
available to participate in a comprehensive handover of the farm and its equipment
and attest in writing that the farm was received in good condition.
Director, Privatization agrees.
53. * 15 February 2003 – Handover is completed. Handover documents confirming that
Kigembe Fish Farm was received in good condition are signed. GF withdraws from Kigembe Farm.
54. * April 2003 – GF provides BRD and Government the 2nd and GF’s final audit report.
No acknowledgement or response from either addressee.
55. * 02 May 2003 - Director, GF writes to Director, Privatization requesting a meeting
to begin the arbitration process, “…at the earliest possible time to arrive at a determination
of compensation…” No response.
56. * 13 September 2003 – After 9 months, Privatization responds to GF’s 16 December 2002 request
and, by letter dated 20 August 2003 to the Centre d’Arbitrage et d’Expertise au Rwanda,
requests that the Centre d’Arbitrage et d’Expertise au Rwanda begin the arbitration process.
On the same day, Privatization advertises, locally, that bids will be accepted for,
“Kigembe Fish Ponds” and will be opened on 23 October 2003.
There is no publication of the results of this tender activity.
57. * End September 2003 – Government accepts ADB US$20 million loan offer.
58. * Early October 2003 – AFDB delegation returns to Rwanda, visits Kigembe Fish Farm,
expresses disappointment at the deteriorating condition of the vacated farm.
Delegation is informed that, “ The American got tired and went home.”
Delegates contact the Director, GFSA at his residence in Kigali, arrange to meet
and receive a full briefing regarding GFSA’s forced withdrawal from Kigembe Fish Farm.
59. * 19 February 2004 – In a letter, Director, GF requests a meeting with President Paul Kagame.
60. * 15 April 2004 - In a 2nd letter, Director, GF requests a meeting with President Paul Kagame.
61. * 15 June 2004 - In a 3rd letter, Director, GF requests a meeting with President Paul Kagame.
62 * 19 July, 22 October, 18 November, 23 November 2004 – GF, in its final attempts to achieve
closure outside of a court proceeding, formally advises the Minister For Finance and Economic
Planning that the Centre d’Arbitrage et d’Expertise au Rwanda (CAER) has shown itself to be
unwilling or unable to facilitate the arbitration process and proposes a ‘pre-judicial’ settlement
of US$1 million against its actual losses of US$5 million in capital/in kind investment and income
based upon GF’s on site performance in spite of Government’s numerous acts of bad faith.
GF further advises Government at these times that, in the absence of a substantive formal response,
the group will file suit in the Rwandan courts for an amount of US$15 million based upon the
above referenced losses and the loss of profits that GF would have realized from the AFDB loan.
Any out of court settlement would have to be arranged at a substantially higher figure.
Government does not respond.
63 * 30 December 2004 – The attorney for GF (Francois Xavier Nkurunziza) presents the
“requête introductive d’instance” to the Tribunal de la Ville de Kigali and is advised that
the case will begin to be heard sometime in mid February 2005.
64 * 15 February 2005 - Tribunal de la Ville de Kigali advises the attorney for GF that
the case will begin to be heard sometime in March 2005.
65 * 21 February 2005 - Director, GF receives a letter from the Minister For Finance and
Economic Planning advising that Government prefers to exercise the CAER option.
66 * 22 February 2005 - The Personal Assistant to the Minister For Finance and Economic
Planning invites Director, GF to a meeting at 12:30 hours. At that meeting, the Minister
promises to provide GF with a Government settlement offer on 08 March 2005.
67 * 09 March 2005 – In the absence of the promised offer, in a meeting with the Personal
Assistant to the Minister, the Director, GF is assured the Minister is sincere in his stated
desire to achieve amicable closure in this matter and promises to provide the Government’s
settlement offer by 10:00 hours on 10 March 2005.
No such formal or informal offer has been received as at this date.
68 * 30 March 2005 - The Personal Assistant to the Minister telephones the Director,
GF with an invitation to meet with the Minister on 08 April 2005 at a time to be communicated
on 04 April 2005. No further formal or informal communication concerning this meeting has
been received as at this date.
69 * 02 April 2005 – Attorney for GF advises Director, GF that hearing of its case against
Government will begin to be heard in the High Court, Kigali on 24 May 2005.
70 * 05 April 2005 – In a letter to the Minister For Finance and Economic Planning, the
Director, GF reiterates the GF position vis a vis the Centre d’Arbitrage et d’Expertise au
Rwanda (CAER) as expressed in entry 61 above and advises of the scheduled 24 May 2005 court date.
71 * 23 May 2005 - Attorney for GF advises Director, GF that Government has requested and
has been granted a postponement by the High Court.
72 * 03 June 2005 - Attorney for GF advises Director, GF by letter that the new High Court
Hearing date has been set for 23 June 2005, that he no longer wishes to represent GF and that
the Director, GF should seek another attorney. No reason is given for this decision.
73 * 06 June 2005 - Director, GF meets with the Attorney for GF in an unsuccessful attempt
to gain a reversal of his decision.
74 * 08 June 2005 - Director, GF retrieves all files from the offices of the former
Attorney for GF and begins search for a replacement.
75 * 13 June 2005 - Director, GF approaches High Court with a formal request for a 3 month
postponement to allow for selection and orientation of a new GF attorney.
76 * Mid September 2005 – Director GF retains the services of a second attorney
(D. Savio Kayitana) who makes a formal request for a new High Court Hearing.
77 * 12 January 2006 – At the first hearing, before the President of the High Court, Government,
represented by the Mandataire General (Augustine Hifayi) advises the Presiding Judge
(Tharcisse Karugarama) that it is not prepared and requests a postponement.
GF’s attorney advises the court that GF case is ready for presentation.
Judge expresses his concern that the case has not been heard after being introduced
in December 2004 and wonders aloud why this case has not been settled out of court.
GF’ s attorney advises the court that the Director, GF has made several formal proposals
for out of court settlement to which Government has not responded.
Judge sets 14 February as the date he will hear this case.
78 * 14 February 2006 – Government advises the court that the lead lawyer is traveling in Europe
and is unavailable. Moreover, Government is waiting to receive some necessary documents from
the Privatization Secretariat of the Ministry for Finance and Economic Development.
79 * 21 March 2006 – Government, with GF’s concurrence, proposes a 2 week postponement
while Government prepares a proposal for an out of court settlement.
Judge agrees and allows Government 9 weeks to prepare their proposal.
The next hearing date is set for 09 May 2006.
80 * 09 May 2006 - GOR’s legal representative announced that they had scheduled a meeting
for 12 May 2006 with an inter-ministerial committee charged with devising a mutually acceptable
out of court settlement. GF agrees and the Judge sets the next hearing date for 08 June 2006.
The meeting with the full committee, to include representatives of the Ministries for Defense,
Finance, Infrastructure, Privatization Secretariat and National Police was convened and
chaired by the Mandataire General on schedule. Two subsequent meetings, not attended by the
above referenced representatives were held between GF and the Mandataire General on
15 and 19 May 2006 with another meeting scheduled for 26 May 2006.
81 * 15 May 2006 – The meeting was attended by GF, one of our legal representatives and hosted
by GOR’s legal representative. GOR’s legal representative expressed surprise at the detail and
comprehensive nature of GF’s records and audits for the period May 1999 through January 2001,
was unable to check all of the records in one day, but, still requested that we bring our
financial records for the period February 2001 through to our forced departure on
15 February 2003 to the next meeting, scheduled for 11:00 hours on the following Friday.
No minutes were generated by this meeting.
82 * 19 May 2006 – The meeting was attended by GF, our two legal representatives and hosted by
GOR’s legal representative and at least 5 staff members of the Mandataire General.
GF arrived with their complete financial records as had been requested by the Mandataire General.
No explanation was provided for the absence of the inter-ministerial committee.
This meeting was a replay of the first, ‘out of court settlement’ meeting.
That is to say, the entire meeting was conducted as though GF was a defendant and therefore
required to defend itself against the damage claims put forward by GOR. Within that context,
although there appeared to be no further interest in our financial records, GF was asked to
provide a number of documents that Privatization for months has either been unwilling or unable
to provide to their legal representative. (It should be noted that over time,
GF has repeatedly duplicated and made all of its records available to Privatization’s legal staff.)
When the Director, GF challenged this request, he was informed that, if GF did not comply,
the out of court settlement process would be delayed indefinitely.
In effect, GF would be penalized for Privatization’s failure to provide their legal counsel
with documentation required to address GF’s charges against them.
No minutes were generated by this meeting. The Mandataire General schedules Mandataire General
schedules a full day meeting for Friday 26 May 2006.
83 * 25 May 2006 – GF‘s attorney delivers letter to the Mandataire General outlining GF’s concerns
about the process and requests a formal out of court settlement proposal on Government letterhead
and signed by an official empowered to take such an action. The letter is copied to the presiding
judge. There is no Government response to the specific GF request.
84 * 08 June 2006 - Government requests a 5th postponement, GF refuses and the Judge schedules
18 June 2006 as the date that he will hear the case and render his judgment.
85 * 18 June 2006 – At 10:30 hours, the Judge sends a note to the High Court advising that
he is in a meeting and reschedules his hearing of the case until 01 August 2006.
86 * 01 August 2006 – Judge Karugarama hears the case and schedules 25 August 2006 as the date
on which he will render his judgment.
87 * 04 August 2006 – Presiding Judge in the GF/GOR case is appointed as the Minister for Justice.
No indication of what action will be taken regarding those cases that he has heard
but has not yet judged.
88 * 15 August 2006 – High Court Clerk advises GF’s attorney that the new hearing date has been
set for 23 October 2006. This effectively returns GF to judicial, ‘square one’ in the High Court.
89 * 23 October 2006 – Ramadan ends. This date is declared a National Holiday.
The courts, and everything else is closed. No hearing.
90 * 27 October 2006 – When requesting a new hearing date, GF’s attorney is advised by the
High Court that GF will have to make a formal request for a new hearing date.
The request has been filed.
91 * 03 November 2006 – GF’s attorney is advised that the High Court has rescheduled
the next hearing for 15 January 2007. Any semblance of finding justice is once more delayed.
92 * 15 January 2007 – By letter, Government (Mandataire General) requests a 6th postponement
citing attorney of record scheduling conflict. The Judge reschedules hearing for 12 February 2007.
93 * 12 February 2007 – At precisely 08:00 hours, the Judge convenes the court.
Director GF and GF’s Associate Attorney are present and advise the Judge that the Lead Attorney
has just cleared a traffic jam and will arrive within 5 minutes.
Judge denies a request for a brief delay. At 08:05 hours, GF’s Lead Attorney arrives in the
High Court parking lot less than 100 meters and in plain sight of the presiding Judge.
The Judge observes and is formally advised of the Lead Attorney’s arrival, again denies the
request for a brief delay and adjourns the court.
The Attorney of Record for the Mandataire General arrives at the High Court at 08:40 hours.
94 * 19 February 2007 – GF’s attorney is advised that the High Court has rescheduled the
next hearing for 26 March 2007.
95 * 26 March 2007 – The Judge begins proceedings at 08:30 hours and questions the competence
of the High Court to hear the case. GF’s attorneys cite several precedents including the fact
that her predecessor, as the presiding Judge and, at that time, President of the High Court
(Tharcisse Karugarama), heard the case (see entries 77. through 85. above) without ever raising
the issue of High Court competence and was appointed Minister for Justice before rendering
a judgment. Court was adjourned at 09: 10 hours to allow the Judge to consider the arguments
presented by GF’s attorneys. Court was reconvened at 10:30 hours. The Judge rules the
High Court is not competent to hear this case. GF can either start the case over in a lower court
or appeal to the Supreme Court. GF’s lead attorney advises the Judge that GF will lodge an appeal
to the Supreme Court.
97 * 02 May 2007 – High Court Finding is forwarded to the Supreme Court.
GF’s attorneys immediately file an appeal. The Supreme Court hearing date is set for 23 May 2007.
98 * 23 May 2007 – The Supreme Court hears the GF appeal and schedules 22 June 2007 as the date
the court will render its judgment of the High Court finding.
If the Supreme Court agrees with the High Court Finding, it may agree to hear the case.
If the court does not agree, the case will either be returned to the High Court to be heard
by a different judge or sent to the “Court of First Instance” to begin the process at the,
‘end of the queue’ from ‘square two’ in the Rwandan judicial process.
“Square one’ would be the equivalent of the Small Claims Court.
99 * 22 June 2007 – As directed by the Clerk of the Court, Director, GFSA and GF’s attorney
arrive at the Supreme Court at 15:00 hours to hear the reading of the Court’s ruling
vis a vis the High Court’s 'not Competent’ ruling and the subsequent appeal of that ruling by GFSA.
No such reading takes place and the Secretariat staff are unable to provide any information
as to what has happened.. At the close of business, a junior clerk advises that:
“This problem will be resolved on Monday (25/06/07).”
100 * 25 June 2007 – GF’s attorney is advised by the Clerk of the Supreme Court that the
reading of the ruling has been postponed until 07 August 2007. No reason is given for a delay
in spite of the fact that it violates the 30 day limit from hearing to ruling imposed by
article 49 of the law governing Rwanda’s judicial procedures upon all courts within the
‘reformed’ Rwandan judicial system.
101 * 22 July 2007 – US Ambassador, (Michael Arrieti) advises Director, GFSA that the Minister
for Finance and Economic Planning (James Musoni) has proposed that we meet with a:
“cross ministerial team to find a mutually acceptable solution” to the Kigembe Fish Farm problem.
102 * 07 August 2007 - Supreme Court Judge advises GF Director and Attorney that the Judge
responsible for writing the appeal ruling has been, “… assigned to other duties.”
The appeal is scheduled for a rehearing on 24 September 2007. Given that Rwanda’s courts are
in recess during the month of December, this action by the Supreme Court insures that GF’s case
against Government cannot possibly be heard , for the second time, before January 2008.
103 *09 August 2007 – Minister Musone convenes a meeting with the Minister for Justice
(Tharcisse Karugarama), Director, GFSA and a senior GFSA shareholder (Suzana Murara),
the US Ambassador and the US Economic Attaché (Dan Stoian). It is decided that a senior
representative from each Ministry, will meet with the Director, GFSA on 16 August 2007
with the senior GFSA shareholder and the US Economic Attaché in attendance as observers.
The Government representatives will be expected to present a counter proposal to GFSA’s
US$5.6 million claim against Government and will be empowered to negotiate for Government.
104 * 16 August 2007 – No meeting was scheduled. No reason given.
105 * 20 September 2007 – U.S. Economic Attaché advises Director, GFSA that Government
tentatively suggests a meeting on 27 September 2007. Two members of the GFSA negotiating team
are outside the country until 28 September. Meeting does not take place.
106 * 24 September 2007 – GFSA attorney is advised that due to the Minister of Justice
assuming the additional post of Attorney General, the Mandataire General will not be available
at court. The Hearing of GFSA’s appeal is rescheduled for 15 January 2008,
three weeks after the 3rd anniversary of GFSA entering its complaint against
Government in the High Court..
107 * 27 September 2007 - U.S. Economic Attaché advises Director, GFSA that Government
would like to meet with GFSA at 14:00 hours on 04 October 2007. GFSA agrees with the
understanding that Government will present a counter proposal to the GFSA US$5.6 million claim.
108 * 04 October 2007 – Representatives of GFSA and GOR meet at the U.S. Embassy with the
U.S. Economic Attaché acting as an Observer/Moderator.
GOR is prepared to make an ex gratia payment of an undisclosed amount, but not unless and until
GFSA formally accepts that it has no legal case against the Government of Rwanda.
The GFSA position is that GOR may attach whatever label it wishes to whatever mutually agreed
settlement it might pay to GFSA. However, GFSA firmly believes that it has a legitimate
and well documented complaint against the GOR, has no intention of making any statement
to the contrary, and proposes a, ‘no fault’ separation once a formal, mutually acceptable
financial settlement has been agreed upon. As GOR apparently has no specific financial counter
proposal, and in the interest in facilitating an out of court settlement, GFSA circulated
its own proposal that includes, settlement payment to GFSA of US$2.8 million,
GFSA will pay BRD RwF95 million loan principal and lease fee arrears but no fines or
interest on either debt. It was agreed that another meeting would be scheduled once the GOR
delegates have discussed the GFSA proposals with the Minister for Justice and the Minister
---- / ----
Christopher A. Thorne, Director
Gone Fishin’ S.A.R.L
08 October, 2007