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MasterCard and I&M Bank Sued for Sh 20 Billion by Customers in Rwanda

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I&M Bank Rwanda

Users of a Multicurrency Card issued by I&M (Rwanda) on behalf of MasterCard move to East Africa Court of Justice seeking compensation.

Global payment company MasterCard and a regional bank I&M are being sued, alongside the Rwanda government, for USD 139 million (KES 20.1 billion) by 150 Rwandese cardholders who claim they were arrested and detained without trial and their cash and personal property confiscated following “false accusations” of bank fraud, money laundering and false enrichment.

The applicants have filed the suit before the East Africa Court of Justice (EACJ) based in Arusha, Tanzania seeking a declaration that their arrest and detention by Rwanda Investigation Bureau infringed on their constitutional rights.

In the suit filed by Ssemakula Ali Abaas and Nyinawumuntu Leatitia on behalf of the 150 other users of the Prepaid Mastercard Multicurrency Card issued by I&M Bank (Rwanda).

The applicants are represented by Joseph McDonald of McDonald and Company Advocates of Nairobi, Kenya.

“The dispute at hand centres on a group of Rwandan Citizens/Residents who entered into a Bank/Customer relationship with I&M Bank Rwanda PLC when the bank issued them with a Mastercard Multi-Currency card,” said McDonald, a Kenyan advocate.

The Card could hold up to 17 different currencies and one of the benefits as advertised in the bank’s website was that a card holder could shift one currency to another within the card’s sub-wallets.
Said McDonald.

“A comparison between the rates offered by the bank and those on the MasterCard platform revealed that the latter offered favourable rates. The group would then develop the practice of shifting currencies within the card’s sub-wallets i.e. from AED to EURO and back to AED, resulting in a 10% profit. This activity essentially leveraged price differences across markets, a practice known as arbitrage. As a matter of fact, I&M had run a commercial advertisement that gave customers 10% discount on the usage of their multicurrency card.”

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On or around January 2023, the Rwanda Investigation Bureau arrested the over 150 individuals on allegations of bank fraud, money laundering and illicit enrichment.

The applicants according to documents seen by Kenya Insights claim that they were detained without trial for more than three months, were denied bail, were extorted/ forced to transfer money to escrow accounts, their properties confiscated and their family members and friends were also detained and tortured to give information.

Below are some of the suit’s documents:

IandMsue Statement of Reference List of documents 1st Applicant-Abassa-Affidavit


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