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In August 2011, Abdul Hakim Abdul Salam and Nesra Abdi allegedly won an over 100 million birr tender for emergency food aid; including corn, haricot bean, edible oil and other nutritional supplemental foods to about 79,000 needy people living in the Guji and Borena zones in the southern part of the Oromia regional state. They submitted a one million birr bid bond Cash Payment Order (C.P.O) checque as guarantee bond to the Ethiopian Red Cross Society that issued the tender.
The Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) denies reports that any of its funds were swindled during the recent 100 million birr food aid purchase tender it was allegedly deceived in.
Daniel Tegenu, ERCS President, said that the organization took every precaution with the 100 million birr food aid purchase tender. He said it was their agency that notified the government about inconsistencies concerning the fraudsters’ trade license and other suspicious documents.
“We took the matter to the police but the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) had already taken a keen interest about the matter and they collected pertinent documents; so it’s in the hands of the Commission,” Daniel told journalists.
Daniel insisted that although the fraudsters had won the tender not a single penny was paid to them before they were found out to be fraudulent.
The bid winners, Abdul Hakim Abdul Salam and Nesra Abdi on their part are said to have threatened to file a 20 million birr lawsuit against the Ethiopian Red Cross. They claim they have lost money due to the delay in advance payment from the ERCS.
ERCS further said it managed to save more than five million birr from a second open tender for the project leaving it with extra cash for its relief programs.
The ERCS also said the fraudsters’ trade licenses were uncovered as being fake after the Dire Dawa trade and industry bureau, which the suspects had reportedly taken their trade licenses from verified it as being fraudulent.
The Secretary General of ERCS Frehiwot Worku added that the people in the organization who were involved in the scandalous tender process have already resigned and there is an investigation being carried out by FEACC.
Bekalu Ayalew Public relations head at the Red Cross warned the media not to “peddle around with unsubstantiated reports”, to not hinder donations to its relief operations from its millions of volunteer members. Instead he argued that there should be an investigation done about how the fraudsters managed to prepare a seemingly genuine one million birr C.P.O as a guarantee without being noticed for quite a while.
ERCS had recently received over a million birr in urgent food assistance from the employees of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Fund.
The Ethiopian Red Cross Society was formed 76 years ago to help provide non-partisan relief aid and service to the Ethiopian people and today has 11 regional branches, 28 zonal branches, 70 woreda branches and more than 3,000 Red Cross Committees.