Government guarantee lasts a year provided he addresses woes of disgruntled clients and shareholders
Ermias T. Amelga, Ethiopia`s self exiled real estate mogul, has made a dramatic return to Addis Abeba this week, people close to him disclosed to Fortune.
The embattled businessman, who has now been elevated to a status of “too important to fail,” has been signaling his return to Addis where he will have to face thousands of disgruntled homebuyers who made advances to Access Real Estate (ARE) S.C. and other companies under his flagship investment firm, Access Capital Services S.C., as well as angry shareholders.
Arriving on Thursday morning, February 19, 2015, Ermias went straight to his mother`s home, according to a person close to him.
Ermias has won an unusual guarantee from the Administration of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn that a total of 81 criminal complaints lodged against him and his firms would be suspended for a year, sources disclosed. He has agreed to settle shareholders` woes and homebuyers losses within the period he is granted, according to a letter of guarantee issued by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), according to a person who saw the copy. Nonetheless, his firms are fighting series of civil suits in several courts.
His real estate firms have sold over 2,000 units of homes to buyers collecting over a billion Birr as advances. His firms, under his complete control and with loose board oversights, run construction projects on over 19 sites scattered across the capital. They remain stalled after his sudden departure facing criminal probe on a bounced cheque two years ago. Several committees of homebuyers and shareholders have been formed to recover their respective losses.
The Prime Minister has also formed an interagency committee following serious of complaints homebuyers lodged to his administration. Ermias has been negotiating with this committee, comprising 10 members, and chaired by Mekuriya Haile, minster of Urban Development, Housing, & Construction (MoUDHC), and Kebede Chane, minister of Trade, as his deputy. Getachew Ambaye, minister of Justice, and Abate Sitotaw, deputy mayor of Addis Abeba, serve as members, while Nuredin Mohammed, advisor to the State Minister for Trade, runs a technical committee which comprises nine members from the MoT, representatives of homebuyers and shareholders, as well as officials from the MoUDHC.
“’We expect that he will settle the complications as he promised,’’ said a senior minister in the Administration. “Within one year!”