Big fish eat little fish in Ethiopia
By Yared Metmiku
May 13, 2013



big fish
ADDIS ABABA - Ethiopian police on Friday arrested 16 government officials and business people in what the state-owned media played up as an anti-corruption drive.

Those arrested include Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) chief Melaku Fenta, his deputy Gebrewahed W. Giorgis and ERCA chief prosecutor Eshetu W. Semayat.

According to an Ethiopian TV report, police confiscated money totalling less than $1 million Birr (US $54,000).

In 2009, illicit money leaving Ethiopia was over US $3 billion.

According to a Global Financial Integrity report, titled Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries over the Decade Ending 2009, "the vast majority of the rise in illicit financial flows is a result of increased corruption, kickbacks, and bribery while the remainder stems from trade mispricing."

None of the top government and ruling party officials, long known for their corrupt life, has been arrested. Instead, it is they who are conducting the anti-corruption drive that has so far netted junior offials in the likes of:

  • Asmelash W. Mariam, head of Kaliti Customs
  • Amigne Tagel, head of Nazret Customs
  • Tirunesh Berta, Inspection chief
  • Zerihun Zewde & Marishet Tesfu, transit company heads
    incluiding business people such as
  • Nega Gebregzabher, Netsa Trading Plc,
  • Ketema Kebede, K.K. Plc,
  • Semachew Kebede, Intercontinental Addis
  • Mihretab Abraha, Businessman

Admittedly, the drama doesn't end as the "big fish eat little fish" adage. In Ethiopia, it goes beyond that. The anti-corruption campaign usually is launched in cash-starved Ethiopia when the government seeks to secure money from the World Bank, IMF or other lenders. It has worked many times in the past, and it may work this time, though the big fish are still in power and devouring the poor country.


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