Melaku Fenta et al corruption case still under investigation

Begziabher Alebel, architect and shareholder of Ultimate Plan Plc, Mehireteab Abreha, brother of TPLF veteran Seye Abreha, Fitsum Gebremedhin, business man and Tekleab Zera Biruk, the Ethiopian Revenues and Custom Authority (ERCA) Mille branch manager, were among those that did not celebrate the Ethiopian New Year holiday with their families as they appeared before the Federal high court on Friday, September 13, 2013.
The trial of high profile corruption case, launched a few months ago is still ongoing with the Federal Ethics and Anti- corruption Commission (FEACC) expediting its investigation and auditing.
While most people were expecting the audit report to be completed and wanted to know the results of the investigation, FEACC’s investigator announced that it had not completed the audit report and requested an additional 14 days to process, claiming that it is very broad and only one company remained to be audited.
This is the second request for additional time that the investigator has made against these four suspects since charges were filed against their 44 co-suspects, and the tenth since they were taken into custody.
It was on August 29, 2013, that Debebe Degefa, FEACC investigator , and prosecutors Ayalew Tsegaye and Endale Tesema requested an additional 14 days to process the audit report, while announcing they have filed charges against 44 people including Melaku Fenta , the former director of the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) and his former deputy, Gebrewahid Wolde Giorgis.
On the same day the prosecutor decided not to file charges against three people, including Messeala Wolde Sillasse and Nigusse Kibret from Tigabu Gidey file and Getachew Asseffa from Temesgen Seyoum file. Some suspects such as Niguse, the former higher official prosecutor were released on bail.
Even after taking seven days, the investigators failed to complete the audit report. The judge explained to the four suspects that it is impossible to know what will happen upon completion of the audit report; whether the suspects will be free to go or will be charged.
“This is why we do not accept your request for bail, while it is your right to ask for bail,” responded the judge to the suspects who requested bail complaining that the prosecutor has spent four months and seven days on the investigation without finishing, while the judge explained that four months is for the whole case.
Though the court denied the request for bail, it also denied the request of 14 days to process the audit report saying it will give them only seven days.
“Since you have only one company left, seven days is enough,” the judge told the investigators, announcing that the court expects the completion of the audit report within seven days.
Except for the four suspects, whose court hearings have been adjourned, the seven investigation appointment files that the second criminal bench has been hearing for the past three months, have been closed. Those charges are now in eight files. Some suspects such as Gebrewahid are appearing in different files trial.
The Commission has been investigating a mile long list of alleged suspicious activities including goods passing through customs uninspected and having the books of the companies under investigation audited twice for undue benefits on the part of officials. Business men, on the other hand, are accused of alleged tax evasion, the importing of cement using the prohibited Franco Valuta method and selling duty free imports meant for investment.
It was in May 2013, that the start of the long drawn –out investigation into corruption allegations began, with the arrest of some of the top tax officials and their family members, along with close to 60 prominent and middle-level officials and business men.
Some of the suspects who were arrested such as Melaku Fenta and Gebrewahid  and businessmen of some repute including, Simachew Kebede of the Intercontinental Addis Hotel, Ketema Kebede of K.K. Plc, Nega G. Egziabiher, shareholder in Netsa trading and owner of Nega City Mall, Fikru Maru, of Addis Cardinal Hospital and Mehereteab Abebreha shocked the public..
At the end of the hearing, the judge, who has not been seeing the same case for the past trials, adjourned the case to be seen for September 20, 2013.

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