Ethiopia to Recover Over 130 Billion Birr Stolen Public Funds: Official

The office of the federal attorney general said that work is underway to recover over 130 billion birr stolen public funds that had been embezzled by government officials and affiliate investors and diverted to foreign countries.

Presenting the 11 months performance report of his office to the national parliament on Wednesday, Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye said his office is investigating and working to repatriate the wealth of the nation stolen by the corrupt officials and their affiliates.

Those corrupt officials who are allegedly involved in such offenses reportedly deposited their stolen assets in foreign banks in such countries as in Singapore and Dubai banks.

Berhanu said the government has reached agreements with various countries to recover the stolen public funds, which some were obtained in loans and financial aid from donors and international organizations.

The government led by Prime Minister, however, is criticized by some for allowing corrupt officials to stay in power, despite his government’s repeated charges against corruption since he came to power. Some of these critics also see the drive against corruption as targeted against certain groups and not others.

According to the attorney general, out of the total recovered stolen money, 95 billion birr was located during the past Ethiopian budget year and the remaining $35 billion identified during the first three months of this budget year.

Berhanu did not mention the foreign banks and the list of all countries where the money was being recovered. Since it came to power, the government of Abiy Ahmed has vowed to pursue illicit money stashed in foreign countries. However, so far no money has been recovered from any foreign entity.

Absence of strong legislative and regulatory framework with multiple legal tools to detect corrupt activities and illicit financial flows, rapidly freeze of assets, and conduct effective investigations and long court processes are believed to have created safe heaven for corrupts officials to live freely.

More public wealth had been diverted to foreign countries in various methods by government officials and their affiliate investors, Berhanu added.

Zinabu Tunu, public relations head at the Attorney General office said that the name of individuals and countries where the stolen funds had been stashed in each case have already been identified. He said a directorate has been established to recover the funds and works are also underway to bring the criminals before justice.

Zinabu said the case is very complex and time-consuming and the office is finalizing investigation to disclose the result of the investigation in the near future.

Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy had expressed his administration’s commitment to repatriate the wealth of the nation stolen by the corrupt officials and their affiliates.

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