5 January 2019

Ethiopia: Police Partially Wind Down Investigation of Ex-Metec CEO

Photo: Addis Fortune
The state-owned military-industrial conglomerate, Metals & Engineering Corporation (MetEC).

Judges at the Federal High Court gave prosecutors 10 days to charge Kinfe Dagnew (Maj. Gen), founding CEO of the state military conglomerate Metals & Engineering Corporation (MetEC), who is suspected of corruption.

Last Monday, the prosecutors received the case from the Federal Police, who have been probing Kinfe, for the past two months. On the same day, police reported to the court that they have concluded their investigations of three of 19 allegations that they suspect Kinfe is allegedly involved in.

The prosecutors also filed a two-page application, which states that they have received a full investigation report against Kinfe, who served the Corporation for eight years until he resigned last April.

The investigation reports are accusations against Kinfe, who allegedly ordered and approved the procurements of two shipping vessels, Rivera Hotel, a PVC manufacturing company and Imperial Hotel. Prosecutors stated that the police investigative report shows that Kinfe has allegedly caused the loss of 852 million Br of public money by "illegal procurements".

The first accusation against Kinfe is causing a 545 million Br loss in public treasury by ordering employees of the Corporation to procure two shipping vessels from the Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise. The prosecutors claim that, in acquiring the shipping vessels, Kinfe led MetEC to spend unwarranted additional public funds for the repair and maintenance of the vessels and for administrative costs.

Under the second accusation, Kinfe allegedly ordered the procurement of Rivera Hotel and a PVC manufacturing company and caused the Corporation to spend an unnecessary 202.8 million Br on these properties. Contrary to the Corporation's mandate, Kinfe persuaded MetEC to unlawfully procure Imperial Hotel and spend additional funds to maintain this hotel at a total cost of 103.8 million Br, according to the police investigation report.

The three allegations against Kinfe are similar to those leveled on 11 other suspects of MetEC officials, who are scheduled in court this week.

Detained on November 14, 2018, police initially brought Kinfe before the court with 12 allegations of crimes of high corruption. During his third appearance before the panel of three judges, police added seven new allegations that brought the total to 19. During each of Kinfe's three appearances before the court, the judges gave 14-day extensions to allow the police to conclude their investigation.

In the latest session held early last week, police reported that they have finalised the investigations pertaining to the allegations filed. They also applied to continue to probe Kinfe's conduct at the Corporation while prosecutors pursue the charges against him.

The two prosecutors - Habtemariam Tsegaye and Habtamu Haile - requested that the judges grant 10 days for the charges to be filed, listing the complexity of the issues and to merge his cases with the other MetEC officials.

The two defence lawyers standing for Kinfe - Zeresenay Misgina and Habtom Tesfaye - argued that prosecutors should not be allowed additional time, stating that the police had had enough time to investigate the case, and that prosecutors can file charges based on the material they already have in three days. They also appealed to the judges to drop the remaining 16 counts against their client.

The three-judge panel of the 10th Criminal Bench - Christian Baylegne, Lemma Tuji and Genanaw Assefa - granted the prosecutors a 10-day period and adjourned the case to January 10, 2019.

Ethiopia

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