African UnionLaw & JusticeNews

News: AU admits fraudulent attempt to withdraw over $6M from its account failed, pledges to reinforce banking safeguard

Addis Abeba – The African Union (AU) has admitted that a fraudulent attempt was made to withdraw over $6M from its account at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) located inside the premises of its headquarters in Addis Abeba but has failed due to “the vigilance and swift action of the CBE staff and our finance department.”

This is the first official statement by the AU admitting reports of the failed attempt. The AU said it was “disconcerting that such an attempt was made,” and that it was “treating this matter with utmost seriousness.”

On 15 April, “…a series of Payment Transfer Orders were submitted to the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, at their Branch located within the African Union Headquarters, in Addis Abeba. The Payment Transfer Orders were submitted by an individual who is not an employee of the African Union. These orders designated substantial funds to various recipients under the premise of construction and water drilling works, amounting to over US Dollars 6 million,” the AU said.

The insights into “potential vulnerabilities” led the AU to conduct a review of the security measures in place,” it said, it is working closely with the CBE “to reinforce safeguards and implement enhanced protocols to ensure that fraudulent attempts to compromise the finances of the AU are prevented.”

Last week, Addis Standard Amharic reported that in mid-April, the police in Addis Abeba detained a senior clergyman from the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church (EOTC) for alleged crimes of attempting to transfer over US$6 million from the foreign account of the African Union (AU) at the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia (CBE) inside the headquarters of the AU, to bank accounts of three individuals using fraudulent Payment Transfer Orders.

The main suspect, Clergyman Belay Mekonnen, deputy general manager at the EOTC Patriarchate, has been brought to the Federal First Instance Court in Addis Abeba for a second preliminary hearing on 24 April. The police file, originally submitted to the court on 16 April, accused clergyman Belay along with his driver and security detail Yared Fisseha and Dhaba Genana of attempting a fraudulent withdrawal of more than US$6 million from the CBE’s branch inside the AU headquarters in a “coordinated and organized criminal act” and called the attempt an “act that tarnishes our good relations with African countries.”

The court declined to grant a bail requested by the defense team who complained that it was inappropriate to keep the suspects in detention in the absence of any criminal involvement. The defense argued that the clergyman simply agreed to the withdrawal without the knowledge that it was a fraudulent attempt.

However, the investigating police objected to the request for bail and told the judges that “there have been similar instances in the past”, that additional evidence was recovered during the investigation, and that the police needed to expand the investigation.

The police sought 14 more days to remand and conduct “comprehensive investigations” against the suspects but were given eight more days by the court. AS

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button