Ibrahim Taha fails to show up for two consecutive hearings after being released on bail of 100,000 Br
An arrest warrant was issued on April 21, 2011, for Ibrahim Taha who is accused of presenting falsified certified payment orders (CPOs) for the purchase of Hawassa Textile Factory SC and Arbaminch Textile SC; he has failed to show up for two consecutive hearings after being granted a 100,000 Br bail bond in March.
Ibrahim, 32, is accused of presenting two falsified CPOs amounting to a little over 19 million Br, a 35pc down payment on the companies, to the Privatisation and Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA) on January 31, 2011.
The outstanding amount was to be paid within three years, shorter than the agency’s requirement of a maximum of five years.
The CPOs were allegedly falsified to look as though they had been issued by Bank of Abyssinia (BoA) on January 4, 2011.
Ibrahim, who had previously purchased the Fish Development Market Enterprise from the PPESA, allegedly presented a CPO of 10.5 million Br for the purchase of Hawassa Textile Factory, which is located 273km south of Addis Abeba.
The factory, which was established 20 years ago with 112 million Br capital, was leased for five years to Narin Orme Textile Group, in 2005. The agreement was cancelled after three years over a dispute between the management and employees, and the factory was returned to the PPESA.
Ibrahim, who won the tender for the purchase of the companies this fiscal year, also presented an 8.7 million Br CPO for Arbaminch Textile, which was established in Arbaminch, located 505km south of the capital, in 1991. The company, which supplies textiles to Hawassa Textile, was also leased to Narin Orme Textile for five years, but was returned to the agency in 2009 because the buyer lacked the finances to manage the factory.
The alleged fraud was discovered when the CPOs were presented to National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) on February 4, 2011, and the issuance of the payment orders was denied by BoA.
The transfer of the two companies has been cancelled by the board of directors of the PPESA. The cancellation was contested by Ibrahim, who was in custody at Sostegna Police Station, a.k.a. Maekelawi Prison, at the time, in a letter signed by his representative. However, his appeal was rejected by the agency.
Moges Getahun, 29, and Dereje Michael, 30, are accused of collaborating in preparing the CPOs.
Dereje was paid 10,000 Br for preparing the CPOs while Moges and Ali Mohammed each received 5,000 Br for facilitating their preparation, claimed Zeresenyi Misgena, federal public prosecutor. The order for the CPOs came from Ibrahim who told them he does not have the money to pay the PPESA, the public prosecutor alleged.
However, charges have not been pressed against Ali, who allegedly delivered the CPOs to Ibrahim, or Almaz Gama, a PPESA employee who issued Ibrahim with a receipt upon receiving the CPOs.
Ibrahim pleaded not guilty to the charges at the preliminary hearing at the Federal High Court, Second Criminal Bench, on March 21, 2011.
The court accepted his offer to pay 100, 000 Br in bail bonds after not receiving any opposition to it from Zeresenyi. The bail requests of Moges and Dereje, who did not offer any sum, were denied.
The first formal hearing in the Federal High Court, 13th Criminal Bench, on March 24, was not attended by either Ibrahim or Moges.
Degemu Temam, Dereje’s uncle, testified on the same day that the federal police had searched Dereje’s home but did not find evidence that the CPOs were prepared by him.
During the preliminary hearing, the police claimed to have found evidence that Dereje forged the CPOs and earned a living from falsifying documents. None of this evidence has been submitted to the court.
The hearing on March 24 was adjourned after Dessta Latemo, presiding judge, ordered the police to bring both Ibrahim and Moges to the next hearing. As the whereabouts of neither defendant could be located, the Addis Abeba Prison Administration was ordered to determine whether the defendants were in detention.
At the next hearing, on April 21, Moges was presented to the court, while Ibrahim was confirmed not to be in detention, by Yohannes W. Selassie, head of the prison administration.
The court is authorised to keep the bail bond paid by Ibrahim unless he convinces the court of being absent for good reasons during his next appearance, according to the Criminal Procedure Code.
The defendants, who are accused of committing a crime against a state agency, could serve a maximum of 15 years of imprisonment and be fined a maximum of 50,000 Br if found guilty.