[dehai-news] (OLF) Ethiopian ministers accused of theft by a London based company

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Thu Mar 05 2009 - 11:02:39 EST

Corrupt TPLF/EPRDF Ministers accused of pocketing the Millennium Beauty
Pageant Fund
March 5, 2009
A London-based beauty pageant and promotion company has blamed the
government of Ethiopia for breach of trust and obtaining services by
deception. In a strong-worded letter it has recently sent to Prime
Minster Meles Zenawi, the Ethiopian Life Foundation accused the Ministry
of Culture and Tourism of failing to settle the cost of staging the
Ethiopian International Millennium Pageant, which was held in October
The event was held in connection with the so-called Ethiopian millennium
celebrations which were condemned by government critics as wasteful
extravaganza for spending over 70 million dollars on spectacles and
grand parties while tens of millions of Ethiopians were facing hunger
and malnutrition. It was reported at the time that 37 beauty queens
drawn from around the world took part in the 'successful' beauty
The President of Ethiopia Life Foundation Andy Abulime said the special
event for teenage girls crowned and awarded top five queens "considering
the importance of the event in millennium festival of beauty with the
titles Miss Millennium Queens; Miss Millennium World, Miss Millennium
Tourism, Miss Millennium International, Miss Millennium
A trusted source at the Ministry has confirmed that the company has not
been paid a penny due to the fact that the main sponsor of the event,
business tycoon Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi, failed to give a substantial
amount of money he had pledged to fund the special event. It appears
that in addition to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Ministries
of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry as well as the now defunct
Ministry of Information were represented in the event organising
According to Dr Jeff Lee, a co-founder and partner of the company, the
government has refused to pay the cost of organizing the international
beauty pageant aimed at promoting tourism and improving the image of the
country despite repeated requests. "I do not eat in a restaurant in
Ethiopia and say I have no money to pay. If I did I would surely be
arrested for theft or any other criminal charges, so why should
government officials deceive and obtain service from me and then say
they don't have money to pay when the invoice is delivered 18 months
Dr Lee alleged that 1.8 million birr was collected by the organizers to
fund the event from sponsors such as the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia,
Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce, Ethiopian Coffee Exporters Association
and the Ethiopian Horticultural Association. "This money was supposed to
be paid to us, but instead it disappeared without trace," he said. He
suspects that the money might have ended in the pockets of officials who
do not seem to be interested in paying any money despite the fact the
company had received a written guarantee from State Minister Mohamooda
Gass stating that the government would honour its financial obligations.
The company has emphasized that it would take the matter to court if the
government of Ethiopia continued to be unwilling to pay the cost of the
millennium beauty pageant. "It is not in Ethiopia's interest for this
matter to go to litigation in international courts as it will be very
embarrassing for the Ethiopian Government."
Ethiopian beauty Kidan Tesfahun was crowned Miss Millennium Queen at the
international pageant. It also emerged that award money has not been
paid to the winners as a result of the dispute.
Ato Mohammed Dirir,
Minister Of Culture and Tourism
Addis Ababa
We have resorted to this open letter since both you and your State
Minister: Mohamoda Ahmed Gass, will not respond to any attempts to
discuss or settle this very serious matter in private since December
2007 . .This letter may be freely distributed.
Your Excellency
I write as a final reminder that all fess and production costs due to
us, pursuant to an informal written guarantee issued by your State
Minister Mohamoda Gass, for the hosting of Miss Tourism of the
Millennium that we produced for Ethiopia 18 months ago and which were
due for settlement on 3rd December 2007 still remain unpaid and
unsettled by your Ministry, For 18 months since the event took place we
have been waiting for your Ministry to settle this matter and honour
your obligations honourably and with Integrity, but instead your
Ministry has for 18 months deliberately chosen to ignore it's financial
obligations because apparently we do not live in Ethiopia and are a
foreign company, and instead has resorted to blaming everyone you can
for not being able to settle this matter honorable as agreed.
Sir, it has now been 18 months and counting since we Organised this
event for the benefit of your Country ,Government and most especially
your countries New Millennium Celebrations in October 2007, we invested
and spent our hard earned money on Trust believing your Ministry to be
trustworthy and Ethical in its conduct of business, but instead and to
date not one single penny was ever paid for this event and our
Production costs were never reimbursed, your Ministry set up an
Elaborate Organising committee that featured several government
ministries such as
And collected 1.8 million Et birr from
and others supposedly as sponsorship fees payable to us and in the name
of Miss Tourism of the Millennium event, this money was due to be paid
to us for the promotional services we provided by Bringing this event to
Ethiopia, but instead every single penny of this money simply
disappeared under your ministries control and 18 months later we have
not seen a penny.
I am not sure if your ministry is now designated as commercial
enterprise or business, where it "Collects money for International
Beauty Pageants and keeps it?" nor does the Ministry of Culture and
Tourism under your control have any right or mandate to obtain any
service from anybody and then refuse to pay for it latter by simply
claiming "We don't have any money" in law that is known as obtaining
"Services by Deception" and abusue of officie or fraudulent behaviour,
but maybe there was a new proclamation in Ethiopia mandating the
Ministry of Culture and Tourism under your control to do this that we
were not aware of? In any case I also question if Ministry of Culture
and Tourism ever paid any taxes on the 1.8 million birr or on any other
revenue, it collected as a direct result of the event, but never paid to
us, or is Ministry of Culture and Tourism also immune from public
accounting and or taxation of revenue? The questions just seem to keep
mounting up
Sir, after 18 months and counting we feel it is high time you did the
honourable and responsible thing, step-up to the plate, and honour all
your Ministries financial obligations to us. it is not our desire to
take the Ministry of Culture and Tourism or this matter to court, nor
is it in your Governments interest to be in the dock over such a matter
concerning integrity and honesty, after 18 Months, we have been patient
enough and simply ask you to display a level of Professional behaviour,
honour and ethics commensurate with your position as a Government
Minister, and settle this matter once and for all, there is no reason
why Ministry of Culture and Tourism under your control have not paid
anything even if according to your State Minster: "Sheik Al Amoudi
promised and then failed to help you pay some of the costs", you know
fully well we never had any discussions or agreement with the Sheik, and
as far as we know the Sheik is not part of the Ministry of Culture and
Tourism, so Sheik Al Amoudi's promise [ or not, .... we don't know]
should never be used as any excuse for the Ministry of Culture and
Tourism failure to honour its financial obligations 18 months later. the
Ministry of Culture and Tourism is a federally funded Ministry of the
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia ,fully under your control and not an
extension of Sheik Al Amoudi's business empire.
. Fact: We executed the Project for the Ethiopian Government and
People under instructions and a Written Guarantee issued by the Ministry
of Culture and Tourism under your control 18 months ago [ not by Shehik
Al Amoudi ]
. Fact You are the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Culture
and Tourism, and cannot tell us you don't know anything about this event
or your Ministries outstanding obligations to us.
. Fact: Once the event took place the Ministry of Culture and
Tourism under your control has so far refused to pay the any of hosting
cost or even the prizes to the winners, in short you have not pais a
single penny for this event since 2007 you have instead given every
excuse under the sun.
. Fact: the Ministry of Culture and Tourism under your control
did not pay a single penny to us since 2007 for organising this
preferring to claime a budget deficit, and other excuses, all Agreements
entered into by you minisitirty even Informal and formal and legally
. Fact: We will initiate Legal proceeding if the Ministry of
Culture and Tourism continues to ignore the Ministry of Culture and
Tourism's obligation to us and settle this matter Honourably
. Fact You and other Government minsters we only to happy to
attend press conferences and be VIP's pose for photos, crowning the
girls with Crowns and sashes that none of paid for, I attach photos as a
reminder in case after 18 months you need your memory to be jogged
With all these facts in mind one would respectfully ask how you and your
state Minister Mohamouda Gass can sleep well at night and then carry on
Business the next day for over 18 months as normal, knowing fully well
in spite of the Grand event we produced for your Countries Millennium,
what you have done since then is to say the least highly unethical? Is
it also any wonder that this event has not returned to Ethiopia, and no
such event will ever return to Ethiopia, if this is how The Ministry of
Culture and Tourism conducts Business with the international Community.
Mohamouda Gass your state Minister Mohamouda Gass even flew to London
England met with me in 2007 and introduced me to the Ethiopian
Ambassador to UK and Mohamouda Gass gave his word and gurantee regarding
Paying for this event but till now your Administration is not wiling to
pay us a single penny after geting the servicceIn spite of the wonderful
Global platform for the promotion of Ethiopian Culture and Tourism we
presented to The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, your subordinate State
Minister and staff have killed it of, buy abuse of Office and trust,
and surprisingly despite your capacity as the head of the Ministry of
Culture and Tourism, you stand by and just say you don't know what is
going on, and refuse to take any responsibility or initiate any steps to
resolve this outstanding issue?
Is it any wonder how Miss World and Miss Universe have been going
strong for over 50 years, but the one time an International beauty
pageant was held in Ethiopia for the first time in History it was killed
of by a combination of Greed, short sightedness, deliberate financial
mismanagement and gross incompetence by very Ministry that is mandated
to promote Ethiopian Culture Tourism, maybe The Ministry of Culture
and Tourism have something bigger in the pipe line for 2009, but if The
Ministry of Culture and Tourism can't honestly handle just 37
International beauty Queens coming to Ethiopia to celebrate your
Millennium without making a such big mess of it where 18 months later
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism have not paid a penny and instead
chooses to cry poverty, It is sincerely doubtful that the Ministry of
Culture and Tourism can manage anything bigger. may I respectfully point
out that this is the reason this event was not held in Ethiopia again
last year. Poverty is not a badge one wears with pride or delight.
Once again we call on you to respect your position as an Ethiopian
Government Minister and act with the highest amount of Ethics, Integrity
and honour that comes with such a position, business must always be
conducted at the highest level of transparency and ethics..
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is not staffed with Taxi drivers and
Shoe shine boys all used to and looking to Hustle foreigners out of
their money and make a quick buck off them, so kindly see that this
matter is settled without any further excuses or delays or the need to
go to litigation Enough is enough and enough respect and patience has
been given to The Ministry of Culture and Tourism to settle this
matter. ignoring all our communications will simply not suffice
Budget deficit or not, there is no reason why since 2007 and 18 months
later The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has not paid us even a single
penny unless, The Ministry of Culture and Tourism and your State
Minister never intended to pay for the service in the first place, and
this was a just carefully planned elaborate deception all along.
However thankfully we have documented everything for the world to see if
need be. I trust that will not be necessary?
Dr Jeff Lee
Ethiopian Life Foundation


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