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The 18th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court at Lideta Division ruled on July 27 to freeze the asset of the Israeli construction company Tidhar Excavation and Earth Moving Ltd. pursuant of the charges that were filed by the Federal Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (FEACC).
The company’s assets will remain frozen until the hearing is over. Menashe Levy, manager and owner of Tidhar, who was arrested a week ago on allegations of corruption and tax evasion appeared before court this week. He is said to conspire with the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) officers to evade over 46 million birr in tax. The anti-corruption commission’s prosecutors had pressed criminal charges and claim 144 million birr from the company in tax arrears.
In a statement the FEACC sent to Capital it said the authority has frozen different assets of the company including 16 vehicles, 21 machineries and 50 million birr that was about to be paid to the company under the contract agreement it signed with the Addis Ababa City Roads Authority (AACRA) to construct three roads in the metropolis.
The court accepted a request by FEACC prosecutors to freeze the company’s assets until the case is thoroughly dealt with. The company was engaged in three road projects that are being constructed in the capital city. The road that runs through the course parallel with the Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (AALRT) is one of the major works the company was working on.
The commission claimed that from 2009/10 to 2012/13 Tidhar did not pay tax to the government. “The company tried to avoid the payment of 144 million birr including interest and fine,” the commission stated on its charge.
The three ERCA officers, who were charged of corruption and being an accessory to the tax avoidance for a bribe of 1.5 million birr, are under trail since their arrest about a year ago.
The commission restricted movement of the company’s assets for the past one year and that had affected Tidhar’s performance on the road project. A week ago, Capital disclosed that AACRA, owner of the road projects, is considering transferring a section of the project, the one stretching from the Ministry of Water, Irrigation, Energy to Ministry of Mines, to another company. This project was planned to be handed over to AACRA in September; nevertheless, it would not be finished until few months past the deadline.
Tidhar had won three of the many road projects that are being constructed in the metropolis. The 4.2km road from Sidist Kilo to Gurara, the Asko to Wingate, and Wingate to Pastor roads are projects the contractor was awarded.
A year ago, FEACC commenced an investigation on Tidhar on suspicion of 52 million birr tax evasion case.