A new bill regulating negotiable instruments has proposed changes to legalize negotiable instruments in electronic form. A negotiable instrument is a written document of monetary value that promises a sum of payment to a specific person or to the assignee.

Negotiable instruments are transferable in nature, allowing the holder to take the funds in cash or use them in a manner appropriate for the transaction or according to his preference. Instruments mentioned in the invoice include checks, bills of exchange and promissory notes.

The virtual plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies on June 7 approved the relevance of the bill, which will be examined by the competent parliamentary committee before being put to the vote on the law in plenary session.

While explaining the relevance of the bill, Claudine Uwera, Minister of State for Economic Planning, said that the current law enacted in 2009 does not provide that such instruments can be exchanged electronically, stressing that she seeks to answer such a question. .

“As technology is increasingly adopted in all, including accelerated economic development, it is evident that the use of conventional instruments in business will be reduced for the foreseeable future, while the use of technology in payments will be accelerated, ”she said. .

In addition, under the current law, she said, banks were allowed to issue checks, but the bill in question proposes that microfinance institutions may also use checks after obtaining approval from the bank. the National Bank of Rwanda.

Uwera said a check can be scanned and digitally signed and then transferred to serve the intended purpose.

Once enacted, said Uwera, this law will go a long way in making Kigali a hub for financial services as envisioned under the Kigali International Financial Center, as it will facilitate the use of electronic negotiable instruments by men in the field. ‘business, especially since a number of them will be doing business on the base in different parts of the world.

In addition, the current law did not provide for offenses and penalties as well as the body responsible for their enforcement. The new bill provided for this, as well as the entity responsible for implementing the legal provisions, including the National Bank of Rwanda.

A negotiable instrument must meet certain requirements, including being written on paper or electronically and signed by the maker or drawer; and contain an unconditional promise or an injunction to pay a specified sum of money.

The other requirements must be payable on demand or at a fixed or determinable future date; be payable to order or to bearer; be addressed to a drawee who must be named or otherwise indicated therein with reasonable certainty.

MP Veneranda Nyirahirwa said she supports the introduction of electronic instruments in the bill, but expressed concern about cybercrime [in the financial sector].

“I would like to know how prepared we are to deal with the problems that could arise from the use of electronic means when there are false instruments or other fraudulent acts,” she said.

MP Leonard Ndagijimana said there were not enough professionals, including legal experts in ICT in business and economic cybercrime.

He pointed out that in foreign countries there are hackers who illegally enter banking systems and steal money.

“What are the efforts that are going to be made in ICT to do business so that all financial institutions have experts, including lawyers in electronic financial services so that they are able to identify criminal conspiracies before they can? they are not committed, ”he said.

The minister said the government of Rwanda has established the National Cybersecurity Agency which is mandated to tackle economic crimes committed by electronic means and build cybersecurity skills and capacities.

Offenses and penalties

Fraudulent receipt of funds or negotiable instrument; it is an offense to authorize or make a withdrawal knowing that a person is not a debtor on the transaction date or on the settlement date shown on the invoice or promissory note.

Under the bill, a person convicted of any of these acts is liable to imprisonment for not less than six months and not more than two years and to a fine of not less than two times and d ‘at most 10 times the value of the amount indicated on the negotiable instrument in Rwandan francs.

The bill also provides that issuing a bad check is a crime. The offender is liable to imprisonment for not less than two years and not more than five years and a fine of not less than five times and not more than ten times the value of the amount indicated on the check.

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