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Holland Car Plc customers, who did not get their automobiles delivered sued not only the company, but also Zemen Bank and their own committee.
The Lideta Federal High Court 8th Civil Bench started to hear the case on Monday January 14. On the day the three sued bodies (the bank, customer committee and Holland Car) appeared before court represented by their respective lawyers. The plaintiffs appeared with their written deposition on the first hearing. About 120 customers have apparently been waiting for years to collect their automobiles from Holland Car. Some customers are said to have paid a first down payment for their vehicles while others have paid the full price. But the first car assembly, Holland Car is said to have not delivered the cars according to the deal. Two months ago the assembly filed for bankruptcy. According to the charges, the customers sued the five members customer committee that includes Girma Seifu, the only opposition party Member of Parliament, accusing them of failing to follow up their case. Zemen Bank that gave guarantee for the customers to facilitate the LC issues is also accused of dispersing the customers’ money to the company without them receiving the cars. The court was adjourned for further hearing for February 8. Holland Car’s sales and showroom located on Africa Avenue on TK building was swarmed with court summons in the past weeks, after customers sued it individually. Later, after consultation a big load of customers came together to sue the three entities including the committee that was supposed to work for them. According to sources, other customers who are not part of the current court case are under preparation to take their case to court. This second group includes about 15 customers that got their cars, but who paid extra to get it. They claim Holland Car had promised to pay back the extra money. One of the clients, who got her automobile in November following a 33 months delay, said that she has given an additional 171,000 birr as a loan to the company to settle customs duties. She said that based on the deal Holland Car should pay her back the money in April 2013. “If the company declared bankruptcy how am I going to get my money,” she complained. “Due to that other clients and myself who loaned money to Holland Car together with some who did not even get their automobile are in the process of going the legal route,” she explained back in November when the company announced bankruptcy. Zemen Bank on its part is said to have promised Holland Car customers that it will seek ways to provide the automobiles, after the company filed for bankruptcy. “At this point, Zemen Bank would like to inform Holland Car customers, employees, and the public that the Bank is working on a solution that will try to address the concerns of the key stakeholders involved in this case,” indicated a statement sent for Capital via email back in November. Zemen Bank has put up part of Holland Car Plc assets for auction at a floor price of 9.6 million birr in late December. The bank floated the tender for interested buyers for the assets of the car assembling plant located around Burayu area in the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Holland Car was established in 2005 through a joint venture (JV) between Tadesse Tessema (Eng) and Trento Engineering, a Dutch company, to supply assembled vehicles for local and export markets, with an initial capital of 11 million birr equally contributed by both shareholders. Holland Car assembles vehicles at its factory located in Mojo Town, Oromia Regional State, 70 kms south of Addis Ababa. The company had 250 workers. Holland Car was the first car assembly plant which was in business for the last seven years and was popular with its Abay, Tekeze and Awash automobile brands.