The Rwandan government has auctioned a prestigious shopping mall in Kigali belonging to Tobacco tycoon Tribert Rujigiro Ayabatwa.
According to a report by Xinhua News Agency, the popular Union Trade Center (UTC) which is located in Kigali’s Central Business District, was auctioned off on Monday to a local real estate company, Kigali Investment Company (KIC), by the Rwandan Revenue Authority (RRA). The bidding involved three participants – local businessman Pascal Kanyandekwe and two companies – Kigali Investment Company and Unity Company. KIC won the auction with an $8 million bid for the shopping mall, an amount that is significantly lower than the $20 million Ayabatwa reportedly spent in constructing the property.
In the recent past, the Rwandan authorities have accused the wealthy 77-year-old businessman of trying to topple the Paul Kagame-led government. The Rwandan government has also accused Ayabatwa, who now lives in exile in Canada, of evading taxes for many years. The businessman denies the charges.
Tribert Rujigiro Ayabatwa is Africa’s foremost Tobacco entrepreneur. He is the founder and controlling shareholder of Pan African Tobacco Group (PTG), one of the Africa’s largest indigenous manufacturers of tobacco products. PTG manufactures cigarettes in 9 African countries including Nigeria, Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates. The company employs more than 20,000 people and Ayabatwa claimed to this writer in 2014 that the company had revenues of $200 million.
This article first appeared on Forbes