Ethiopian Shipping Lines Loses 19M Br to Forgery

Charged as mastermind of the crime was a former employee of ESLSE with negligent bankers also suspect

The Ethiopian Shipping Lines & Logistics Services Enterprise (ESLSE) lost 19 million Br via illegal withdrawals from its account at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia’s (CBE), Finfine Branch. The Federal Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission have charged 14 people including four mid-level managers of the Bank and three other individuals as main actors in the crime.

In February and March 2016, four consecutive transfers were made from the ESLSE account to the account of Welka Plc at CBE’s Birhanena Selam Branch.

According to the charge, instructions via four pieces of correspondence on the Enterprise’s letterhead ordering the transfers to Welka Plc were forgeries, later confirmed by the Forensic Department of the Federal Police Commission.

Not only the letterheads were forged. Other supporting documents of Welka Plc including its business licence, registration, the company’s authenticated Articles of Association and the founding CEO’s identity card were all found to be forged documents.

All bore copied signatures and stamps of the respective offices, the forensic report disclosed.

Deres Abebe, who represented himself as CEO of the fake Welka Plc, whom the charge identified as the mastermind of the crime, was a former employee of the ESLSE.

He and two accomplices including his sister Woineshet Abebe, who is still on the run, opened a current account at Berhanena Selam Branch, which later was found to have deposits of 19 million Br transferred from the Enterprise’s account.

Material forgery of official or public organisation’s documents is the crime cited against the three individuals Deres Abebe, Hailemariam Begi and Wonishet Abebe. If found guilty the suspects might face rigorous life imprisonment.

Upon transfer of the 19 million to the Welka account, the money was moved out by the three suspects within two weeks time.

The Commission following this opened a case on four mid-level managers of the Bank from the two branches. They are Abdurhaman Ahmed, and Roman Shileshi, customer service managers at Finfine Branch and Gezahegne Adgeh and Dawit Tsegaye, customer service manager and senior controller at the Berhanena Selam Branch face charges.

The Article of the Criminal Code which refers these acts as maladministration of government or public enterprise work, which if found guilty, could imply rigorous imprisonment of seven to 15 years each depending on the gravity of their responsibilities.

It is the responsibility laid down in the Bank’s operational manual to ensure the authenticity of documents from the designated office that the Bank’s officers were said to have bypassed, leading to the loss of the Enterprise’s money.

The recently revised Anti-corruption Law lays the burden of proof on the suspects, assuming any actions or omission by suspects, are acts intended to harm the interest of parties.

The Commission also applied for a confiscation of property order and 20 million Br in cash, vehicles and electronic items to be held as exhibits for the case.


Published on Jun 21,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 842]



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