Ethiopian federal police detain man, accomplices for alleged possession of more than five billion birr illegally, money laundering

The Ethiopian Federal Police says it has arrested an individual named Samuel Aguale Alemu, whom it accused of illegally possessing more than 5 billion birr.

The police said in a statement on Wednesday that Samuel was arrested with 25 other individuals including his sister Yodit Aguale Alemu who are found to be complicit in the crime.

The statement from the police claims that the individuals have been engaged in “illegal money transfer and forex trade in collaboration with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)”, the party administering Tigray regional state but was labeled as terrorist by the Ethiopian parliament and warring with the federal government since November 2020.

According to the federal police commission’s statement the suspects have made a transfer of 5,248,000,000 birr in one year. Samuel and Yodit are also suspected of making illegal foreign exchange trade worth 247 million birr and have 25 different bank accounts opened under their names in various banks.

The police commission added Samuel Aguale Alemu, A.K.A Sami Dollar, is a businessman based in Addis Abeba, but travels to the US frequently.

On Monday, 24 October, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said decisive and swift actions need to be taken against economic sabotage including hiding of products, illegal foreign exchange and land grabbing, which he said were “the main obstacles” challenging his administration’s journey towards realizing Ethiopia’s prosperity.

Earlier this month the National Bank of Ethiopia says it has closed 391 bank accounts and due to file charges against the account holders who are suspected of engaging in illegal money transfer activities.

The Ethiopian economy has been struggling with a severe lack of foreign currency and subsequent market inflation, which the government partly blames on illegal money transfer activities. As a result the government has recently banned import of 38 types of commodities identified as luxury goods


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