Sunday, June 16, 2024

MeTEC’s lost plane found


One of the five airplanes bought by Metals and Engineering Corporation (MeTEC) from an Israeli Company, which was declared lost, last week by the Attorney General, was found on Friday November 16, at Bole International Airport The plane, which was said to be registered by an individual Yohannes Megersa, was denied to get an operation license before a year by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, according to sources close to the case. However MeTEC paid for the plane originally.
“The plane, a Beechcraft King Air, was denied operation service because of its non-airworthiness,” a source at the Authority told capital. “The plane was in the compound of the airport for about a year without any service.”
The plane was brought to the country via Sudan without any custom duty, according to Attorney General Brhanu Tsegay’s press briefing last week. The five planes gave more than 50 years service before entering to the Ethiopian territory.
“The Corporation bought them for a legitimate reasons of following up projects but the officials were trying to get a license from the aviation which was denied” Brhanu said in the press conference. “The government sustains damages close to 25 million birr because of this illegal procurement.”
Yohannes was aiming to get the license in collaboration with one local commercial airline, East African Aviation which is an affiliate company of Dreamliner Hotel, according to a source. Yohannes was also enrolled at the East African Aviation as a Commercials airline pilot.
“However, when the owner of the commercial airline sees the status of the plane they changed their mind” our sources added.
There are two ways of registering a plane in the Ethiopian aviation to get a pass.
Commercial operation license is one whose procedure might take 3 months to a year. The second one is to get an entry to the airspace of the nation for one-time landing. In this case, the plane should land with the said time and leave the airspace after the expiry of the permitted period.
Colonel Wosenyeleh Hunegnaw, Director of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority told Capital that he personally denied the pane to operate in Ethiopia a year ago.
“We even didn’t approve the owners request to demonstrate a flight in Ethiopia,” said Colonel Wosenyeleh. “I don’t know how the plane is still here, and we will look into documents and will brief the public on the detail.”
Corruption, human rights investigation continues
Investigations of corruption and human rights abuses conducted by a special task force made up of the Office of Attorney General (OAG), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) continues as the arrest total has risen to over 70. Over 40 former and active government appointees from the security and police department have been taken down under allegations of violating human rights, according to General Adem Mohammed, head of the NISS.
“We were working on our reform for the past four months and considering the potential arrests and now we have appointed individuals both in the head office and the regions to replace those people,” Adem told Capital. “Even if it is a little early to evaluate the status of our operation now I think we are going based on our plan but we are far from the end.”
The task force is using seven different teams to investigate cases. They include; asset recovery, METEC, human rights violations, corruption and crimes in the financial sector, public enterprises and audit findings by the chief auditor.
Corruption investigations include mega government projects, huge procurements, Illegal financial transactions, illegal institutions, and public enterprises
The investigation is using internal and external audit reports and comparing them with the appropriate legal frameworks. Only the violation of human rights and corruption in the Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC) was discussed during the press briefing given by the attorney general last week and he indicated that there are ongoing investigations which will be soon concluded.
Originally the Defense Corporation was established in June 2009 with 10 billion birr permitted and 3.1 paid up capital. Its mission was to design, maintain, install, and capacitate the Defense Force in technology, engineering, and technology capacity building, and manufacture spare parts to expand the industry.
According to the investigation report, in just the six years it operated, from 2011 up to 2017, it conducted more than USD two billion in international procurements without any bid announcement but instead using private relationships.
The government admitted that its defense corporation embezzled billions of USD which is millions less than the national foreign reserve the nation had at the end of the 2016/17 fiscal year. Ethiopia was reported by the International monitory fund (IMF) to have a foreign reserve of only two months of imports, or 3.2 billion USD.
Higher officials would participate in transactions where a single company was awarded purchases 50 times at a profit rate of 400%, with no competition, According to Brhanu Tsegaye, Federal Attorney General.
Also, he revealed that there were agents who had double tasks of negotiating between global firms and METEC would then launder money illegally to other countries. The agents were close relatives of top METEC managers.
“There was an illegal trend of picking local companies as a partner and giving them many procurements and contracts,” said Brhanu. “One crane was lost after being bought by the corporation and we now have obtained evidence that it is still in the hands of one individual.”
The partner companies are alleged to have supplied goods and services at a much higher price than the market. The companies would be awarded billions of birr projects with a phone call. In one case a single company with a single transaction was awarded 205 million birr.
The illegal purchase of ships, Abay and Andenet, which served more than 25 years and were marked as not seaworthy were purchased by METCH to be used as a scrap. Unfortunately, the ship was used for other purposes including the withdrawal of hundreds of millions for a claimed maintenance, in Dubai. The ships were used to carry USD 500 million worth of items from Iran to Mogadishu.
“No money was deposited to the METCH coffer and the act was not hampered against the orders of the former Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn,” said Brhanu. “After they cost the nation aggravated damage and carried out many illegal carriage services they finally sold the ship.”
Airplanes and hotels were also purchased illegally, according the AG. The airplanes were bought from Israel after serving for more than 50 years. Four of the planes are out of use now and we have not been able to locate any, the AG said.
The AG also revealed inhuman and degrading treatment committed by government officials; especially the National Security, Federal Police, Addis Ababa Police, and other government institutions all over the country.
He, for the first time, admitted that government officials would violently commit homosexual rape on male detainees. He also mentioned that there were various methods of torture including electric shock, throwing a naked detainee in a forest, threatening them on the edge of a grave and many other horrifying acts. Evidence included victim’s statements and documents obtained from hospitals, courts and police stations, although the courts need to verify them.” The detained security officials are also suspected to have participated in the latest ethnically based violence which erupted in different parts of the nation. Ethiopia became the country with the highest number of internally displaced people. “There are disappearances and murders that were uncovered by our investigation,” said Brhanu.
The arrested suspects include leaders and experts from government offices. He also mentioned the suspects are innocent until proven guilty. According to the Attorney General the head of the NISS collaborated with a woman named Genet, who lives in Kenya.

Read more