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Fifty charged with corruption and alleged misuse of public power in Ethiopia

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The High Court in Ethiopia has charged 50 people, including the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) engineer Azeb Asnake, with corruption and alleged misuse of public power. 

The suspects include Azeb’s colleague Bireda Maru, who served as portfolio manager in EEP, Colonel Mulu Woldegebriel, former Deputy Director General of Metals Engineering Corporation (METEC) and his colleague Lieutenant Colonel Solomon Berhe, who was serving as the Corporate New Business Development Finance Administration head in the military apparatus.

According to the charges read out at the Federal High Court Fourth Anti-Corruption Bench on Friday, 27 December 2019, METEC and EEP inked a contractual agreement in 2007 at a cost of 182 million dollars to clear the forest found at the project site of the Ethiopian Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and make the land ready for the reservoir and other purposes. 

The charges, however, state that the contractual agreement is poorly done. 

The Attorney General accused Azeb Asnake, who resigned as CEO of EEP in August 2018, and her colleague, Bireda Maru, and other employees of failing to take managerial action for the poorly done forest clearing job, endorsing full payment for the 30 percent job accomplished and embezzling over 35 million dollars in public resources.

According to the charges filed by the AG, officials of METEC including Deputy Director METEC Colonel Mulu Woldegebriel and other senior officials of the military infrastructure partnered with officials of EEP to embezzle the allocated budget of the forest clearing works.

The charges claimed another 37 managers of private construction companies were accused of involvement in embezzlement of the public resources without delivering on their mandate based on the contractual agreement.

Lieutenant Colonel Solomon Berhe has been accused of paying 17 million dollars to 37 construction contractors for the job partially and poorly executed. 

Legal procurement procedures were not followed as the contractual works were awarded to the 37 contractors, the charges said.

Out of the 50 suspects, four of them heard the charges against them at the Federal High Court Fourth Anti-Corruption Bench, while the majority of the suspects, including the engineer Azeb Asnake, are still at large.

– APA

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