Judges at the Federal High Court have sentenced today Simachew Kebede, a prominent businessman, to six years, after founding him guilty of failure to file on value-added and corporate taxes.
A major shareholder of DH Simex Plc, which owns Intercontinental Addis Hotel, Simachew has already been in jail for close to four years, thus eligible to be released on probation.
Federal prosecutors brought charges against the businessman in 2013 along with the former Director General of the Ethiopian Revenues & Customs Authority (ERCA), Melaku Fenta, over an alleged corruption case. He was accused of abusing a duty-free privilege granted to his company to import construction finishing materials for a property it was developing. But he sold the imported materials to third parties, prosecutors charged.
However, judges began to try his case separately after the court accepted his appeal to split his case from the initial co-defendants. Later on, the Anti-corruption Commission charged him although a new legislation enacted by Parliament rendered his alleged offences only punishable by administrative measures.
Simachew kept on fighting criminal charges of failing to pay the state a 20 million Br in VAT, and 29.4 million Br in corporate tax.