Upto 17 Year Sentence for CBE Fraudsters


Bank defrauded of 7 million Br by 12 individuals and companies




On November 24, a dozen defendants were convicted of fraud totalling seven million Br and were sentenced by the 18th Criminal Bench of the Federal High Court to sentences of between four and 17 years in prison. The construction companies owned by the defendants were given hefty fines. The defendants were accused of defrauding the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and found guilty on November 2, 2016 by the same bench.

Tamrayehu Tekle and Ephrem Woldetensay, former employees of the bank were allegedly the architects of the fraud. They allegedly transferred funds from the headquarters of the Commercial Bank to a company called GBC, owned by another defendant, Nibret Mamo. Tamrayehu and his wife, Tinsae Mamo, were each convicted of money laundering while they were acquitted of the abuse of power charge.

Ephrem and the other four defendants were found guilty of both money laundering and abuse of power. The companies they owned were also found to have taken part in money laundering.

The public prosecutor demanded a penalty fit for the crimes committed. He described Ephrem and the owner of GBC, Nibret, as greedy. He accused Ephrem of transferring the banks funds to GBC’s account. He also accused Nibret of distributing the money to the other defendants, and taking a cut for himself.

Considering the nature of the crime, the prosecutor said, Tamrayehu and Ephrem, former employees of the bank needed to be penalized heavily for abusing the confidence of the bank vested upon them.

However, the court rejected the argument, stating that those were the circumstances of the crime itself and therefore could not be used as an argument for a heavier penalty.

The court took each defendant’s lack of a criminal record into account when considering an appropriate punishment. The commission of the crime in concert was taken as grounds for increasing the penalty. The court also looked at Nibret’s role as the head of a family and his active involvement in charitable organizations, and ordered Nibret to be jailed for 11 years and fined 35,000 Br.

After taking all the circumstances into consideration, the court sentenced Ephrem to 17 years and a fine of 60,000 Br while two other defendants were given 16 year prison terms and a fine of 50,000 Br fine each, all in absentia. A fourth defendant was sentenced to seven years and a fine of 20,000 Br.

Tamrayehu and his wife were sentenced to four years imprisonment and fines of 7,000 Br each; the court showed lenience as they have a young child. Since the couple lost a child who was born while Tinsae was in prison and their only son is still young, the court suspended her sentence for two years

The construction companies were given total fines of 850,000 Br. GBC received a hefty bill for 350,000 Br, while the rest were given 125,000 Br fine each. Although the prosecutor called for sequestration of all the fruits of the illegally obtained money, because the laundered money was merged with legally obtained money, the court ordered the prosecutor to submit a separate application.



By HAWAZ MERAWI
FORTUNE STAFF WRITER

Published on Nov 29,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 865]


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