Leikun Berhanu sues Awash International Bank

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The former President of Awash International Bank (AIB) has sued the bank for wrongful termination.

Leikun Berhanu, who is one of the Bank’s top shareholders with more than six million shares, is asking for compensation amounting to provident fund payment, annual leave converted to cash, compensation for being allegedly forced out of his job and 10,000 birr, which he says he was asked to pay by the board of directors.

The former president said the payment was illegal and he should not have been forced to pay it.

Awash International Bank said the only reason the former president has not received what he is asking for is because he did not approach the Bank in person, and under a system put in place during his time at AIB, Leikun is to be paid the accumulated provident fund amount of 690,000 and 59 days of annual leave converted to cash, amounting to more than 70,000 birr.

The bank also said the 10,000 birr penalty Leikun was asked to pay by the board of directors will not be returned.

It denied unfairly terminating Leikun’s contract, saying he was working for AIB on a time-specific contractual basis and not as a permanent employee.

Therefore, the bank says it was under no obligation to serve Leikun notice before firing him.

In 2010, Leykun was sent on enforced leave along with seven employees by the then outgoing board of directors as they launched an investigation into his role in an alleged misdemeanour in the handling of letters of credit.

In March 2012, the former president received a 15-month prison sentence for inappropriately handling and approving letters of credit, in contravention of bank procedures.

As a result of his actions, the Bank was also found to be carrying more than the allowed amount of foreign currency under National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) directives, leading to a fine of 10,000 birr against the Bank.

Leikun was released this year.