The commissioner of Somali Regional State police, Mohamed Ali Hassan, announced yesterday that his investigators have arrested 5 men accused of masterminding the grand-scale looting of the Pastoral Community Development Project (PCDP). He said a total of 15 million Birr was taken from the forged PCDP account and still remains unaccounted for. The commissioner added they’re hunting for other men who were part of the criminal gang behind the organized theft.

Police Commissioner Mohamed Ali Hassan

The man responsible for PCDP, Mohamed Sh. Aden, under whose watch the money was looted, came blasting: He accused everyone except himself – the finance bureau, the commercial bank of Ethiopia (Jigjiga Branch), the office of the president and the steering committee of the PCDP.

Head of PCDP Mohamed Sh Adan

The PCDP director said: (1) the finance bureau cannot open an account on the ground of one forged letter. They should have first sought, and asked for, the minutes of the proposed project and its approval, application letters and other relevant documents before opening the account and disbursing funds.  (2) The commercial bank shouldn’t have transferred funds to an account that doesn’t fulfil the required banking and financial sector regulations.

On his part, Mubashir Dubad Raage, the head of the finance bureau, the department that approved the forged account and disbursed the funds, simply explained things by narrating how the grand-scale theft was carried out. He said the gang was organized and they knew the system inside out, thus exploiting its loopholes.

So, in essence, bureau heads threw the ball to each other and no one acknowledged, even slightly, any wrongdoing.

Head of Finance Office Mubashir Dubad Raage

SR News commentary:

PCDP director claimed he came to know about the theft on January 5, 2019, through the financial statement of the PCDP, and promptly notified the police to investigate it. This was when most of the money was already taken. We therefore ask: what took him so long? Does his bureau not have a system that checks, on daily or weekly basis, their running costs? His narration is hard to believe. He was either negligent, as he is indirectly acknowledging or was complicit in some way. We leave it to investigators to determine the veracity of his story.

The explanation made by the head of Finance Bureau is not worthy entertaining. His office is a crime scene and should be investigated as such.

We have not yet received statement from the commercial bank of Ethiopia’s Jigjiga branch. They are ultimately responsible for breaking banking regulations and facilitating the looting of PCDP. The Somali Regional State must ask the bank to refund them, and the directors of the bank who facilitated the theft must be brought to book.

SR News