Prefabricated Real Estate Case Adjourned Once More

The Federal High Court has adjourned the serious fraud charge filed against two of the six founders of the Addis Prefab Houses Manufacturing Industry S.C – Fikremariam Alemu and Yosef Asegedom – until, March 20, 2014. The judge passed the decision on Monday, March 10, 2014, citing that the oral proceedings held on February 11 had only just been made ready and he has not yet had the chance to review them.

It was expected that, during Monday’s session, a decision would be passed on the statement of defence submitted by the defendants on January 30, 2014, and the oral proceedings that took place on February 11, 2014.

During the previous court session, on February 11, the judge attributed the extended break to the transcription of files, which he said needed more time because of the length of the court sessions involving oral presentations.

On Monday, the judge said that he received the transcribed file in the morning just before he entered into the court room. He, nevertheless, claimed that the transcription for the case involving two of the founders of Addis Prefab was a little faster than those of other pending cases.

The two were charged with falsely telling hopeful homebuyers that they had purchased land on a lease for real estate from the government in three places in Bole District – Bole Bulbula, Summit Condominium and Bole Beshale – in the name of the Company.

They falsely promised to deliver houses within a short period of time, according to the charge, raising posters and boards on plots of land they had not received, and promoted themselves as a real-estate company.

Fikremariam and Yosef collected around 4.8 million Br from the plaintiffs through the Company’s account by promising them that they would provide them with real estate, the charge also states.

The prosecutor also claimed that the founders had started collecting money in 2011, although Addis Prefab was only established in November 2012. The Company has not received any land in the Bole District, the prosecutor also argued.

During the oral proceedings that took place on February 11, Fikremariam’s attorney stated that the Company is licensed and has already received plots of land in Bole District through a deal it signed with Comet Trading and Milki Burayu S.C. The attorney argued that Fikreramariam did not commit any crime and should be acquitted.

On the other hand, Yosef’s attorneys argued that the charge document fails to mention the place, time and date of the alleged crime. Nor has the name of the accomplice been mentioned. Yosef must only be accused of a breach of trust and not fraud, they said. The attorneys argued that the 37 charges should be presented separately,

The counterargument from the prosecutor was that the Company signed a contract to buy leased land on February 15, 2013, with Comet Trading, and on December 22, 2012, with Milki Burayu, only after collecting money from 37 hopeful homebuyers and promising that they would deliver homes. This was long before the Company signed the contract to buy the leased land, the prosecutor argued.

He also argued that the charge only applies to the defendants under police custody, but not the accomplice. The charge file stated that the time of the crime was from March 2012 to July 2012, and the place where the crime was committed was at the Worku Building, Bole District.

Yosef remained calm and expressionless for the duration of the session, whereas Fikremariam, who was dressed in a white shirt with black stripes and black jeans, seemed relaxed with a wide smile as he entered the courtroom.

Addis Prefab was established in February 2009, with an initial capital of 42.9 million Br, by six co-founders: Gezahagn Yaineshet, Yoseph Asegedom, Fekeramaiam Alemu, Tigist Atenafu, Semayawit Geber Michael and Tesfaye Wobeshet. It had 861 people registered on its shareholder list by the end of 2013. The company was operating in the real estate, manufacturing, construction and trading sectors.

During the next session on March 20, the Court will pass decision on the litigations of the defendants and the prosecutor.

Source : Addis Fortune

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