Ethiopia: State minister for finance, director of roads authority arrested on suspicion of corruption

Alemayehu Gujo

Zaid Woldegabriel

ESAT News (August 4, 2017)

Ethiopian state minister of finance and economic cooperation was arrested on Friday suspected of squandering millions of dollars after the country’s parliament lifted his immunity from prosecution. Alemayehu Gujo, who attended today’s parliament, listened as his immunity was lifted; and he was taken into police custody as he left the parliament.

Mr. Gujo was accused of awarding multi million dollar contracts to foreign firms without due process of auctions and shady procurements in millions of dollars. He is the highest-ranking official to be arrested in the last two weeks campaign of arrests of officials, technocrats and businessmen.

Zaid Woldegabriel, former director of Ethiopian Roads Authority was also arrested on Friday on suspicion of involvement in high level corruption. The Ethiopian Roads Authority is one of the departments targeted in the ongoing arrest of suspected individuals. The crackdown also targeted the Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation, the Addis Ababa Roads Authority and various branches of the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation.

A general was brought to court on Thursday in connection with the embezzlement of 8 million USD from a government sugar project.
Brigadier General Ephrem Bange, an Oromo, and three others were arrested on Tuesday and brought to a court in Addis Ababa on Thursday for allegedly siphoning of millions of dollars from state projects.

Also brought to court Thursday were former head of the Tendaho Sugar Project, Yoseph Begashaw for misappropriation of 3.6 mill. dollars and head of procurement with the Ethiopian Roads Construction Corporation, Kassahun Kachi for siphoning off 1.1 mill. USD.

The state minister and the general are the highest officials so far in the arrest of close to 50 suspects. Critics however say that the crackdown against corruption had avoided the big culprits in the higher echelons of the TPLF who have allegedly squandered billions of dollars from sugar and other development projects. Birgadier General Kinfe Dagnew of the Metals and Engineering Corporation and Abay Tsehaye, one of the founders of TPLF and a man with great power of influence are two names frequently mentioned for allegedly squandering millions of dollars.

The Parliament that was called from recess also lifted the state of emergency that was imposed in October 2016 following deadly anti-government protests last year in which security forces killed hundreds of protesters and detained tens of thousands.