$6 million fraud investigation in Ethiopia as AfDB exits staff

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is facing a tumultuous situation as it withdraws international staff from Ethiopia following a “serious diplomatic incident,” where its employees were reportedly attacked by Ethiopian security officers.

Simultaneously, Ethiopia has initiated an investigation into a publicized $6 million fraud case, where funds, intended as the Ethiopian government’s contribution to the AfDB, mysteriously vanished.

Ethiopian officials, requesting anonymity, disclosed that the money, transferred on AfDB’s instructions, appears to have ended up in Latin America.

The Abidjan-headquartered lender has decided to maintain existing Ethiopian staff under their employment contracts, with the Ethiopian office overseen by an officer-in-charge.

The Bank says its international staff members will work remotely during this period.

The diplomatic clash arose on October 31, 2023, when two AfDB staff members in Addis Ababa were unlawfully arrested, physically assaulted, and detained by Ethiopian security forces.

Sources within AfDB claim the dispute originated when the bank couldn’t verify a $5.2 million deposit, representing Ethiopia’s annual contribution to the AfDB. But actually Ethiopian officials are saying the money transferred amounts to $6 million.

According to anonymous sources, the altercation ensued when senior Senegalese economist Abdul Kamara, AfDB Ethiopia Country Manager, disputed the authenticity of the associated bank account.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Finance Minister Ahmed Shide intervened, meeting with Kamara, who bore scars from the assault. The attackers were allegedly linked to the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and national intelligence.

AfDB President Dr. Akinwumi Adesina directly engaged with Prime Minister Abiy and led a high-level delegation to Addis on November 22.

Adesina expressed dissatisfaction, stating, “The situation is still not yet resolved in a satisfactory manner,” and voiced concerns about the safety of AfDB employees in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has reportedly declined to share any investigation reports or details related to the incident with the AfDB.

Adesina highlighted that the incident has raised concerns among stakeholders, and the bank’s continued operations in Ethiopia may be jeopardized if the matter remains unresolved.

As of now, Ethiopia has not provided an immediate comment on the unfolding situation.

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