Suspended Bank Official Takes Public Office

Former CEO of Cooperative Bank of Oromia is back in new government post

The former CEO of Cooperative Bank of Oromia, sacked out of his post by the Central Bank, has now been appointed to lead the Oromia Regional Trade and Market Development Bureau.

The new appointment came a year after the central bank’s decision to dismiss Wondimagegnehu Negera and his assistants over alleged inappropriate management of foreign exchange.

The Central Bank has a mandate to suspend a CEO with sufficient cause. Grounds for suspension are stated under Article 18 of the banking business proclamation. It includes, in the opinion of the Central Bank, threatening the stability or soundness of the financial sector or the general public interest of the institution.

In 2015, when Wondimagegnehu was suspended, the Cooperative Bank of Oromia reported a reduction in profit after tax to 312 million Br from 388 million Br, and reduced earnings per share (EPS) from 50 Br to 40 Br.

The bank introduce five new vice president positions and brought new faces into the positions four months ago. During this period 22 branch managers and dozens of executives left their positions.

It is with this backdrop that Wondimagegnehu, along with 27 others have taken over on Oct. 23, 2016 the regional administration of Oromia Trade and Market Development Bureau.

He is one of eight cabinet members who are non-central committee members of the Oromia Peoples’ Democratic Organisation (OPDO).Among the eight three including Wondimagegnehu, Teshome Adugna (PhD.) and Demelash Gebremichael are non party members.

“For me this appointment comes at the right time- when the regional leadership opened up to work with other-non-party members,” Wondimagegnehu Negera told Fortune. ” For me it is an opportunity to give back and work with a vibrant and new perspectives.”

Oromia, the biggest region with over 284 thousands of sqkm, and a population of over 32.8 million has been the centre of political unrest this year. Holeta was that the first onset of the nationwide wave of protest began. Oromia has also registered the highest level of property damage and loss of life. Last month no less than 13 farms, factories and 60 Vehicles were set on ablaze, though the number might be escalated since the government is still in the process of assessing the impact.

The region leads the country on the investment front. Over 30pc of the country’s four billion dollars foreign direct investment is secured in this region. In the last year alone, 55,593 hectares of land was readied for investment in this region, of which 81pc of land has been transferred to investors, with a registered aggregate capital of 69.07 billion Brr.

Beker Shale, head of the OPDO’s Central Committee said that the council knew about Wondimagegnehu’s history.

“His permanent suspension from banking sector doesn’t imply that he is banned from holding public office and serve his region,” Beker said. Beker has also worked as member of the Board of director’s of the Bank in 2012/13, a year after Wondimagegnehu become the president of CBO.

“It is merit that the new appointment focuses on, and not past records,” Beker added.

It is not only Beker who is confident of the New trade and Market Development Bureau. Also supportive of the appointments is Fekadu Tessema, head of Oromia Communications Bureau and former head of the trade Bureau between 2008/9 and 2010/11.

The Communication Affairs head earlier in August made the battle clear.

“The choices are simple, either cut off the rent-seeking political economy or allow the nation to disintegrate.” As quoted on an interview with Sendek, a weekly Amharic newspaper, commenting on the unrest in the region and way forward.

The new appointment particularly of a person who has been thrown out of the financial sector into public office has dismayed Lidetu Ayalew, a veteran opposition politics leader.

“This is a flicker of the joke around the promised ‘deep reform,” said Lidetu.

Wondimagegnehu, 41, holds Masters in did his Bachelor of Accounting Business Leadership from the University of South Africa, having over two decades of experience in the banking sector. He was the youngest CEO in the industry.

By Samson Berhane
Fortune Staff Writer

Published on Nov 01,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 861]



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