Ethiopian tax authority spends 33m birr on confiscations
Oct. 25 2010
The Ethiopian Revenues and Customs Authority (ERCA) paid around 33 million Br in rewards over the past two years to informants and people who aided in the seizure of contraband and illegal items as well as supplied information about illegal transfers of duty-free items to third parties.
The largest payout of 2.5 million Br was made in August 2010 to an informant, who tipped off the authority about an individual who tried to smuggle gold out of the country through Djibouti, as well as individuals who aided in the seizure. Acting on the tip, the authority arrested Daniel Mekonnen while trying to smuggle 46.96kg of gold, worth around 5.7 million Br, through Djibouti on September 28, 2004.
The Cassation Bench of the Federal Supreme Court eventually upheld the decision which had been made by the Federal First Instance Court and sentenced Daniel to a three-year prison term and a fine of one million Birr. The court also revoked his civil liberties for three years.
The informant in the case was paid 30pc, 1.7 million Br, of the 5.7 million Br which the authority had recouped, while the individuals who collaborated in the gold’s seizure each received 861,319 Br.
In April 2009, the ERCA amended its directive stipulating how much informants should be paid and increased the percentage of payout to 40pc of the total amount recouped in the seizure of contraband and illegal items. However, informants are only paid after the authority has sold the items that have been confiscated, according to the directive.
The authority’s reward payment incentive has encouraged many people to come forward with information. During the past year, the number of informants the authority has registered reached 334.
“The informants vary in type, with some who have made it a fulltime job to look for contraband and illegal items,” said Solomon G. Amlak, director of the authority’s Intelligence Investigation and Risk Management Directorate. “We do not care about their motives as long as the information they bring is accurate.”
There are around 20 informants who regularly tip the authority off and collect monthly payments due to the amount of information they bring in while other informants are employees who supply information about rival companies, according to Solomon.
To date, 185 informants and people who collaborated in the seizure of goods have been paid. In the past two years alone, the authority paid a total of 33.2 million Br of which seven million Birr and 26.1 million Br were in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 fiscal years, respectively.