ERCA heads, six prominent businessmen detained for alleged corruption

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The Director of the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA), Melaku Fenta, and his deputy, Gebrewahid Woldegiorgis, were detained on Friday May 10, on allegations of corruption.

The Ethiopian Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) announced that the two officials and 10 other suspects including Eshetu Woldesemayat, Head Prosecutor of ERCA, Asmelash Woldemariam, Kaliti Branch Customs Head, Tiruneh Berta, Confiscated Property Administration Head of ERCA, Amogne Tagele Nazreth Branch Customs Head, Mulugeta Gashaw, engineer at Oromia Regional State, Ketema Kebede, owner of KK Trading Plc, Semachew Kebede, owner of Intercontinental Addis Hotel, Meheretab Abraha, investor and younger brother of Siye Abraha, Nega Gebreegziabher, owner of Netsa Trading, Zerihun Zewde, Mareshet Tesfu both Transit agents and brokers, have been arrested on allegation of involvement in corruption.

Melaku had been in office for over eight years and led, after the 2005 elections, the restructuring effort of the Authority previously known as the Ministry of Revenue. He had been quite successful in revamping the tax and revenue collection system of the country. Before he was posted to ERCA, he served as State Minister of Federal Affairs for over three years and was also assigned to the Prime Minister’s Office before that. Currently, he is the Board Chairperson of the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE), one of the three state-owned banks. Melaku is also an executive member of the Amhara National Democratic Movement (ANDM).

Gebrewahid Woldegiorgis, Deputy Director of ERCA and Head of Law Enforcement at the Authority, was also a member of the management team at the Customs Authority, before it was incorporated under ERCA in the restructuring undertaken some seven years ago.

The Anti-Corruption Commission’s statement indicated that it has been carrying out several thorough investigations and compiled information from whistleblowers and documentation as evidence in collaboration with the Information Network Security Agency (INSA). According to the statement, the Commission arrested the above-stated officials and ten other suspects whose names shall be revealed at the appropriate time.

Established in 2001, FEACC has been undertaking several measures to curb and ultimately eliminate corruption. During the early days of its formation, the Commission had carried out the investigation on the corruption case of Siye Abraha, a former party official of the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) and his accomplices and over the past decade investigations undertaken by the Commission has led to the arrest of several low and mid-level officials and their collaborators. But many arrests involving allegedly corrupt high level officials have not been made until now.