Azeb Mesfin bankrupting state banks – By Mezgebu Tsegaye, Addis Ababa ( )

July 30th, 2010 | by addis portal |

Azeb Mesfin, wife of dictator Meles Zenawi, member of the rubber stamp parliament and boss of the biggest corruption scheme in Africa called the Endowment Fund the Rehabilitation of Tigray (EFFORT) has been pushing state banks to the brink of bankruptcy.

According to well-positioned banking sources, since Azeb took over EFFORT from Sebhat Nega last year she is personally pressurizing banks to illegally grant huge amounts of loans in local and hard currency. EFFORT, which allegedly owes close to 10 billion birr in unpaid loans mainly from the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, the Development Bank of Ethiopia and the Business and Construction Bank, is well-known for defaulting on the multi- billion birr loans it is raking out of the coffers of state-owned banks.

Azeb, widely known as the First Lady of Corruption and Queen of Mega, has been hand twisting banks, managed by inexperienced TPLF’s hirelings, to loan out a string of additional funds to EFFORT, which has practically monopolized the economy. The latest instalment of the loan bonanza to the privileged and discriminatory ethnic business conglomerate arrived in the amount of $120 billion (1.6 billion birr) which was secured a few months of ago from the major state banks including Development Bank of Ethiopia. The bank has already been in the red as it carries a huge burden of unpaid non-performing loans.

The latest loan was approved for EFFORT’s shady business proposal to launch a huge irrigation project in Tigray. Under Hiwot Agriculture Mechanization, one of TPLF’s numerous companies, EFFORT has already short-listed foreign agribusiness giants including, a Saudi Arabian Irrigation firm, Alkhorayet Industry and Valley, the British Irrigation company and Israeli Drip irrigation, Omni. The main idea of the project is to produce cash crop for export while two-thirds of households in Tigray depend on food aid.

“We are witnessing the most unacceptable form of discrimination that is illegal anywhere. Almost all state banks have been serving TPLF first as the rest of the nation is their last priority,” said a businessman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The Prime Minister’s wife has been using her influence and privilege to play with money at the expense of poor taxpayers. This is corruption of the worst kind. Nobody knows why EFFORT is not paying tax and servicing the loans that should have been invested on essential projects that benefits everyone,” he added.

It has been reported that almost all of TPLF’s companies, which barely pay income tax, are undertaking expansion projects financed by state-owned banks that never ask EFFORT and Azeb to pay back the funds. Last year EFFORT took out a whopping $1.41 million, nearly 2 billion birr, for the expansion of Messebo Cement Factory from the ailing Development Bank of Ethiopia, which sustains its operations on loans from internal and external loans.

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