Ex-CEO of Former ETC Guilty of CorruptionJanuary 18th, 2011
Tesfaye Birru (PhD), former CEO of the former Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC), and 16 employees of the corporation were found guilty of corruption by the Federal High Court, First Criminal Bench, on Tuesday, January 11, 2011.
Tesfaye and 23 executives of what is now Ethio-Telecom were arrested in 2008, and accused of corruption by the Federal Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (FEAC) over the awarding of a contract for the installation of a mobile network. Out of these, 17 defendants were found guilty of the corruption charges that resulted in the corporation losing 1.5 billion Br, as a result of violating the bid document issued by the corporation and acting contrary to the bid directive.
The bid had called for interested companies to make proposals for the turnkey project to supply and install 600,000 mobile networks, including civil works and foundations.
However, Eriksson was awarded the project while it should have been disqualified for not indicating its financial offer for the civil works and foundation, prosecutors claimed. The defendants, who were on different levels of management and served on the evaluation committee, had at various stages facilitated the selection of the company as the winner, prosecutors had alleged.
As a result, the company was paid 47.4 million dollars.
Tesfaye, who received his doctorate degree while in prison, was held liable for signing the final document awarding the contract to Eriksson. He defended his doctoral dissertation on Information Technology to two German professors at the Civil Service College and three at Hamburg University, in Germany, via a video conference, in October 2008. He was about to travel to Hamburg earlier that year to defend his dissertation when he was arrested in February.
Tesfaye and the other defendants in the case had claimed that the 1.5 billion Br loss of the corporation was not only due to the failure of that specific project but a combination of failures in other projects. The three-judge bench of the Federal High Court heard the evidence presented by the defendants and accepted their claim. However, Mesfin Ahmed, Teume Gebru, and Yohanes Gesigal, the judges, ruled that the defendants had not rebutted the corruption charges against them during the trial and found them guilty.
The ruling brings to a close the court case that has been brought against Tesfaye et al. in two different files since 2008. At the end of December last year, the former CEO and 14 defendants were acquitted on another corruption charge brought against them by prosecutors of the FEAC.
The court was adjourned to January 18, to hear arguments for mitigating and aggravating circumstances before passing sentence. --Fortune