Ethiopia slaps former METEC boss with more charges

Kwao Saa

The Ethiopian government has hit the former boss of a state-owned military-industrial complex with additional corruption charges. Gen. Kinfe Dagnew, the former CEO of Metals and Engineering Corporation (METEC), was slapped with more corruption charges earlier this week.

The new charges against Kinfe involve the acquisition of ships from the Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Enterprise.

Kinfe’s dramatic arrest and his arraignment is one of the most high-profile under the anti-corruption campaign led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Kinfe was arrested about two months ago. The General, who tried to escape to Sudan before his arrest, had already been charged with four counts of corruption. Several former METEC senior officials have also been charged with using public funds for fraudulent vessel repairs and administrative costs.

METEC was established in 2009 to manufacture civilian and military products to support Ethiopia’s quest to become an industrial state. Officials began investigating METEC months ago after noticing suspicious practices in the organization.

According to government investigations, corrupt practices in METEC has cost the state up to $2 billion. On Monday, about 14 former workers of METEC were accused of corruption and costing the country up to $19.1 million.

The police have also arrested and charged Mr. Ermias Amelga, a businessman, with corruption. Ermias, who owns Access Real Estate S. C., was charged with conspiring with METEC officials to sell the Imperial Hotel, which he co-owned with other parties. METEC officials were allegedly planning to resell the hotel at an inflated price.

Following Mr. Kinfe’s arrest, PM Abiy canceled many contracts the government had awarded to the corporation. The state-owned conglomerate was awarded a $4 billion deal for the construction of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD). Some have blamed the corruption at METEC for the delay in the completion of the dam.

The clean-up of METEC will involve a reorganization of the company. MECTEC will now be known as the National Metal Engineering Corporation and will no longer be awarded military contracts. The company will reportedly only be given civilian and commercial contracts, while the Ministry of Defence will be in charge of the production of all military equipment.