Simachew Kebede, the major shareholder of DH Simex Plc that owns Intercontinental Addis Hotel, finally gets out of prison after settling the case with the Federal Prison Administration, which resisted his release mentioning the pending appeal against him.
He was released on July 13, 2017, with prohibition after serving four years of a six-year sentence for tax evasion crimes for which he was convicted.
The Federal High Court found him guilty and sentenced him during the court session held on June 14, 2017. But lawyers started processing his release on probation on the same day, as he was eligible to get probation rights.
Initially, the Federal Ethics & Anti-corruption Commission prosecutors charged Simachew for tax-related crimes and a corruption case along with the former Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA) top officials including Melaku Fenta, ERCA’s head, and his deputy, Gebrewahid W. Giorgis, back in May 2013.
He was accused of abusing a duty-free privilege to import construction-finishing materials, and the prosecutors claimed he allegedly transferred them to third parties. But his case was detached in 2015 after the court accepted his appeal to split his case from the first co-defendants. While his case was pending at the High Court, new legislation was enacted by Parliament rendering his and the co-defendants’ alleged offenses only punishable by administrative measures.
On the other hand, the Anti-corruption Commission amended its charge against him to tax evasion of 20 million Birr and 29.4 million Birr for Value Added and Corporate Taxes, respectively. In a cross action, the Anti-corruption Commission appealed to the Supreme Court for the reversal of the lower court’s ruling in closing the corruption case with the former ERCA officials.