The Customs Commission of Ethiopia today announced arresting three GIZ employees for abusing diplomatic privilege and importing worth 219.4 million birr (close to $7.7 million) goods without paying tax.
The three employees along with two other arrested and one on the run have prepared fake stamps of the Germans development agency (GIZ) and a transit company called ICAS to import 4,100 kilograms of different products abusing the duty-free import privileges of GIZ.
“We don’t believe that GIZ, which has been doing many development projects in Ethiopia, is engaged in this illegal trade. We believe that this shows only the motives of the three employees of GIZ to make profit from this contraband trade abusing the diplomatic rights of the organization,” said Debele Kabeta, Commissioner of Ethiopian Customs, who briefed reporters in his office this morning.
He stated that qll the three arrested employees of GIZ are Ethiopian nationals. Explaining the details of the fraud, the Commissioner indicated that initially the employees of GIX have secured a letter from the ministry of Foreign Affairs to import 410 goods duty free using the diplomatic privilege of GIZ. Then they produced fake documents with fake stamps of GIZ and transit company (ICAS) to import ten times more (4,100 kilograms of goods).
The equipment captured in Addis Ababa at Bole International Airport two weeks ago are 987 cannon cameras 5D, 349,084 mobile screens, 6,734 different vehicle spare parts, 332 projectors, 24,250 packets of different medicines, 100 kilograms of silver products that can be used to make jewelries, and 1,318 cables.
The Commissioner noted that the federal police is now investigating the five individuals arrested and looking for one more person who managed to escape.
In recent years contraband trade including trafficking of illegal weapons, medicines have been major headlines in Ethiopia.