Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Seventeen guilty in Gold Scam

Seventeen of the eighteen defendants and one company in the gold scam case were found guilty. The Federal High Court Lideta 15th criminal bench on January 18, 2012 handed down verdicts to 18 individuals and one company in the Seife Desta et al Gold Scam case.
Between October and November 2007, the country was scammed of 63 million birr when it paid for 3.2 million grams of fake gold.
The 140 page verdict said that the employees of the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), Ethiopian Geological Survey at the Ministry of Mines and others including, Caf Mohammed, Mehadi Jemal and Abdulmajid Hayredin, who were tried in absentia, did indeed defraud the nation.
Five NBE employees and Yassin Aman, Belachew Berassa, Amenti Abraham, Mudesir Mohammed and Burhadin Nursebo were pronounced guilty for implementing a government function improperly.
Meanwhile, Mudesir Mohammed, Caf Mohammed, Mehadi Jemal and Amsalu Assefa were found guilty of preparing false documents. Still others were found guilty of concealing money. The 21st defendant is a legal entity called Sofam International Private Limited Company.
Abdishekur Mohammed was found guilty of using false documents, while Fikadu Dafa an NBE employee himself who had been charged with implementing a government function improperly was found not guilty. Two earlier suspects, the seventh defendant Girma Anteneh is now deceased, while the 16th defendant Nuredin Ahmed had been found innocent by the court in an earlier session. The court has heard up to this time from 19 prosecution witnesses and 26 defense witnesses.
The court first adjourned the case to February 3 to hear sentencing migration arguments from the defense and sentencing aggravating circumstances from the prosecution but after negotiation with both sides’ lawyers adjourned the case to February 28.
The 11th defendant Mudesir Mohammed’s lawyer afterwards argued that since her client’s property is greater than the amount he is accused of swindling the state, it should be auctioned and sold and the balance be returned to the defendant.
The judge ruled that the lawyer should present the argument at the next court session. 
After the judge announced the adjournment date of the trial and the prosecution and defense lawyers left the courtroom one of the defendants complained that the adjournment of the trial date was too long to which the judge answered that the trial adjournment was made with the consent of the defense lawyers, and any complaints the defendants might have should be presented it in a written form.  
A separate group of six suspects are also being tried in connection with the gold scam at the 15th criminal bench. That case will be heard on April 11 and 12th, 2011.