Real Estates Reside in Courts




Courts have been busy with outstanding cases between real estate companies and homebuyers – such as the cases against Ermias T. Amelga, charged with fraud against homebuyers. Other real estate cases have all been uniformly ruled in favour of the homebuyers. One exceptional case was brought to constitutional enquiry, but failed the jurisdiction test.

Two grand corruption cases, from two decades and a few years ago, have reappeared and received a ruling during the year. The first grand corruption case, involving former Prime Minister Tamrat Layne and his friends, popped up in court again, after two decades, at the execution bench of the federal courts. The three-year-old equally big corruption case of Melaku Fenta too had its first chapter closed, with the former deputy intelligence chief found guilty.

Figures in the entertainment industry too have been subject to court cases during the year.

 

February 2016

Reemergence of Case 1/89

After two decades, the case dubbed 1/89, regarding Tamrat Layne et al, reappeared, threatening the loss of 26.2 million Br of Nigussies Hailu’s wealth. The renowned businessman is one of the five convicted and sentenced to jail for the crime.

Afar Salt Businessman’s Multiple Claims

A man filed a case against more than 200 defendants. A businessman exploiting salt in the Afar Regional State has taken no fewer than 221 people to the Federal High court. He is demanding the payment of unsettled bills worth a little over 49 million Br.

Paradoxical Privitisation Decisions

The Supreme and High Courts passed paradoxical decisions on February 12 and February 1, on the civil and criminal cases around the privatisation and acquisition of Edget Yarn & Sewing Thread Manufacturing. The Supreme Court’s Second Cassation Bench passed a decision on the civil case between Crown Textile Weaving and MIDROC Ethiopia.

Government Obtains Villa Alpha

The Ethiopian Government has at last got full entitlement to Villa Alpha, the estate of the renowned artist Afework Tekele. The estate includes invaluable stained glass and other works of art. This happened after the consistent rejection of requests for DNA testing by the claimed brother of the artist, at all levels of adjudication.

East African Bottling Share Sale Delayed

Securing a court injunction at the eleventh hour, Nigussie Hailu, pioneering shareholder of the East African Bottling Share Company, postponed the sale by auction of his 11,054 shares, with an estimated value of 26.2 million Br. This was the second time Nigusse managed to get the auction postponed.

Copyright Trespass

The media shy singer, Epherme Tamru, jumped into the court of law on a charge of copyright trespass – a law he has ardently promoted. He is being sued by a relative of the composer of the song entitled “Qedami”, Yedenget Engeda. Punitive damage of 170,000Br is the penalty for using one of the artist’s old songs in a new album without paying the relative of the copyright holder.

March 2016

Access Real Estate

Ermias T. Amelga, founder and former CEO of Access Real Estate, was charged at the Federal High Court and granted bail by the Federal First Instance Court. This comes after a judge at the First Instance Court gave investigators a 10-day ultimatum on the investigation window. The Police took no chances when they decided to appear at the same court and ask for an extension of the investigation period.

Singer’s Tax Evasion

The Federal High Court has sent out a public domain call for Kemer Yousuf, the renowned Oromiffa singer, after the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority claimed that it could not find the singer at his registered residence.

The singer has allegedly evaded paying 2.4 million Br in tax. The series of events behind the unpaid tax according to the charge, began with the singer importing a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Ermias Pays Big for Bail

Ermias Tekil Amelga was granted bail on April 1, on a 600,000Br bond, by the High Court on the bounced cheque charge case opened against him on March 24, 2016. Coupled with the bail bond of over half a million birr required by the First Instance Court last week, Ermias needs to set aside over one million birr to be out on the streets, despite his consistent plea that he has reached a point of dependence on his family members.

Horizon Ordered to Pay Half a Billion Br

The High Court ordered Horizon Plantations Plc, an affiliate of MIDROC Ethiopia – owned and chaired by Ethio-Saudi tycoon Mohammed Hussien Ali Al-Amoudi (Sheikh) = to pay close to half a billion Br in overdue payments to the Ministry of Public Enterprise. This was in relation to the acquisition of the full ownership of four former state-owned enterprises from the Ministry of Public Enterprise.

Top Flower Sues Dashen Bank over Auction of Farm

Top Flower’s 2014 financial report showed assets worth 62 million Br; Dashen sold it for 34 million Br. Dashen Bank has been summoned to court to defend the recently concluded foreclosure of Top Flower Plc, a flower farm in Holeta.

April

Court Convicts Former Intelligence Chief on Seven Counts ­

His two siblings were also convicted alongside him, with judgement and sentence pending.

After three years in police custody, Woldesellasie Woldemikeal, former deputy chief of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), was convicted of an abuse of power and corruption crimes committed in breach of trust and good faith. ­

Transfer of Title Deeds to Homebuyers

Habitat New Flower lost its appeal to the Cassation Bench, which ordered it not only to hand over documents but also to carry through the process of transferring the title deeds for the homes for six buyers who brought their cases to court. The real estate company made the appeal objecting to the decision of an Execution Bench that set out to execute the decision of the Supreme Court made a year ago.

Blue Nile Delayed Payment

Blue Nile Investment Plc, owner of Awash Winery, has been ordered by the Federal High Court to pay a one-year delayed payment sum of 115 million Br. The sum is a delayed first installment payment of 43.6 million Br plus 65 million Br in dividends collected before the winery transferred to the Ministry of Public Enterprises.

Ermias Finally Free

Ermias T. Amelga is finally free, after a series of appeals against his release had been rejected and a third new case opened up. He joined his family and friends on May 16, 2016 – eleven days after the Second Criminal Bench of the High Court closed the third case. Police were denied any further extension of the investigation period. A total of 1.1 million Br in bail had already been granted by both the Arada First Instance Court and the High Court, as the prosecutor failed to charge him.

June

Real Estate Face Tough Year in Court

It’s been a tough year for real estate companies in court, with one reaching a constitutional inquiry.

The trend seems to have moved in the favour of homebuyers – the cost of delay, price variation and the way contracts have been administered have all gone Court.

May Real Estate pushed the limits to constitutional inquiry, only to have a rejection later – endorsing the policy-based interpretation of the situation as right, yet out of the jurisdiction.

The total number of real estate companies to lose cases at the Bench this year was three.

Seifu Fantahun’s Trial Shuttle ­

The Bench has granted the radio host bail after passing a guilty verdict the day before. The decision to grant Seifu Fantahun, a radio and TV talk shows host, bail of 50,000 Br came on June 15, 2016, after the same Bench of the Menagesha First Instance Court passed a guilty verdict.The suspect had pleaded guilty in the court of law a day earlier, on June 14, 2016.

Money Laundering

A billion birr money laundering case finds seven guilty in absentia. ­

After two years, seven were found guilty, one released and nine are yet to present their defence case to the court. The crime committed can carry a custodial sentence of more than 12 years.

Courts stick to Ermias’s Case

Ermias’ failures lead to the snatching of shares of Michot Real Estate, seven million birr in outstanding payments will soon move to other properties, including Ermias’ own home.

Corruption Cases Dismissed

The Federal High Court dropped some cases while upholding others against some high profile former government officials and business people in different corruption cases. Despite having some charges dropped, all defendants were ordered by the court to prepare their defenses for some 93 charges.

August

Further Disappointment for May Real Estate

May Real Estate, one of three companies who lost to homebuyers at the highest judicial system bench, the cassation, were faced with disappointment even at the constitutional interpreting mandated organ – the constitutional inquiry.



Published on Sep 13,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 854]


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