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  • AGENCY SUSPENDS 26 MILLION DOLLARS PURCHASE

    AGENCY SUSPENDS 26 MILLION DOLLARS PURCHASE 18 Mar, 2017

     
     

    By Dawit Endeshaw

    Public Procurement and Property Administration Agency has suspended a long overdue and a very controversial multimillion dollar purchase process by the Ministry of Education.

    The suspension has come following a complaint filed by ZTE Corporation, a Chinese multinational telecom company which is one of the competitors in the tender process.

    The Agency after hearing the compliant from the bidder has issued a letter ordering the ministry to abort the award of the tender to another company. The suspension which was issued this week in a letter signed by Negash Bonke, head of the compliant department at the agency will remain effective until the Agency investigates the complaint and responds on it.

    The letter, in addition to aborting the award process, has requested the Ministry to send every possible document concerning the tender process. It includes tender documents; proposal both financial and technical submitted by the bidders and minutes records.

    “We suspend the tender process because we believe there were reasonable points mentioned by the ZTE which back the action,” sources from the Agency told The Reporter.

    “When such compliant filed by any bidder first we look into their case to decide if it is worth investigating,” the same sources said.

    ZTE Corporation has claimed in its letter that it deserved to win the tender. It argued that it fitted in both technical and pre technical evaluation as well as it listed a lowest price offer in comparison to the company which was to be awarded by the ministry.

    It can be recalled that the Ministry have sent award notification letter to a Chinese company called Anhui Telecommunication Engineering Co Plc Ltd. The Company was declared as a winner with a bid price of 26.4 million dollars. On the other hand ZTE Corp., which appeared in the bid in a joint venture with ZTE Ethiopia, listed 18.5 million dollars.

    Following the award to Anhui, ZTE has complained to the Ministry. However, the case was dropped by the Ministry. 

    The purchase is part of the country’s General Education Quality Improvement Package (GEQIP). It is a project known as a school net which aims to connect 300 schools and 10 universities. It will allow schools to share information. The winning company will be expected to install and commission the project.

    The finance for the whole project came from a number of international organizations mainly World Bank, UK Department of International Development (DFID) and US Agency for International Development (USAID)

    This is not the first time that this tender has been floated for bidding. Back in 2015, the same project was awarded to a company called Inspur Group at a total cost of 20 million dollars. However the award was later cancelled following a compliant logged by bidders which accused Inspur of submitting a false document which helped the company to win the bid. Upon, the information and its own investigation, the Ministry snatched the award from Inspur and re-tendered the project.

    This has led Inspur to be barred by the Agency until 2018.

    Such patterns of controversy surrounding the tender process have significantly delayed the project. It was initially planned to be completed and operational in July 2016.

    Given the latest order by the Agency, the investigations might take months to complete.

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  • SIX ARRESTED OVER BANK ACCOUNT HACKING

    SIX ARRESTED OVER BANK ACCOUNT HACKING 18 Mar, 2017

     
     

    By Dawit Endeshaw

    Six individuals who work at Bank of Abyssinia have been arrested by the police in connection to recent security breaches in its account at correspondent banks. The individuals are allegedly accused of involving in a 1.2 million dollars unauthorized transaction by the Bank.

    On Saturday, March 11, 2017 the Bank has found out that there were instructions sent to Citi Bank and Commerz Bank A.G, which is based in German ordering the two banks to withdraw one million dollars from BoA’s account.

    According to sources, the instruction was made though the Bank’s CORE banking which sent instruction to a SWIFT account.

    The same sources told The Reporter that – as per the instructions – 745,000 dollars from Citi Bank and the 465.000 from Commerz were targeted.

    The money from Citi Bank was already withdrawn, according to the same sources. However, the Bank has managed to stop the remaining amount. The theft was noticed upon Commerz’s intervention.

    Commerz has a representative office here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    The office has declined to comment on the issue saying it has a policy not disclosing confidential information.

    “The attempt was made and we were able to stop it,” Aschalew Tamiru, marketing communication and operation manager at BoA, said.

    The Citi Bank is trying to re-collect the 600,000 dollars, Aschalew said.

    “Our Bank has lost nothing in terms of money,” he said.

    This is really alarming for other private banks, a senior manager at a private bank, who works in international banking, told The Reporter.

    The bank might have a chance to get the 600,000 dollars back if the money did not get into the beneficiaries account, the manager said.

    If the theft happened because of hacking, other banks have to take a lesson from this, the manager said.

    This might also be a result of collusion between staff members and outside parties, said a Banker specialized in international banking.

    Established in 1996, BoA works with close to nine correspondent banks. The bank last year, has reported a 30 percent increase in its net profit to 375 million Birr. The growth rate is a record-high since 2010.

    The police are investigating the issue, Aschalew said. So it will be too early to comment on the issue. He said that they recovered 189,000 dollars of the money lost form Citi Bank

    In addition the bank has increased its paid up capital by 14 percent to 1.2 billion Br.

    Similar attacks on a bank’s correspondent account were made from Russian central bank. The attempt targeted 45 million dollars.

    Again in the same year Bangladesh Bank was also targeted. The attackers used malware that allowed them to hack into SWIFT software and stole 81 million dollars. 

     

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  • ​​​South Africa: Longstanding criminal justice failures and toxic populist rhetoric fuelling xenophobia

    ​​​South Africa: Longstanding criminal justice failures and toxic populist rhetoric fuelling xenophobia

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
    PRESS RELEASE​
    24 February 2017

    Authorities must ensure adequate protection for all refugees and migrants living in South Africa, amid the current protests in Pretoria and the escalating xenophobic tension and attacks in different parts of Gauteng Province, Amnesty International said today.

    South African nationals marched through Pretoria to protest against immigrants (Photo Source AFP)

    Two protests are currently underway in different parts of Pretoria, Atteridgeville and Mamelodi, against high inequality, poverty and unemployment. Another march is also taking place in the same area against xenophobia. A team from Amnesty International is on the ground monitoring developments, with spokespeople available for interview. The situation remains tense, with confrontations and violence occurring between the groups.

    “The situation in Pretoria is precariously balanced and could easily escalate into serious violence. To avoid a bloody and wholly unnecessary conclusion to this standoff, the authorities must take all measures necessary to ensure that violence does not escalate and to facilitate the assembly of those who are demonstrating peacefully,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

    Some protesters were driving around looking for foreigners (Photo Credit: AFP)

    The organisation believes that the latest spiralling xenophobic tension is being fuelled, in part, by longstanding police and criminal justice failures, including a failure to address toxic populist rhetoric that blames and scapegoats refugees and migrants for crime, unemployment and other social problems.

    “South African authorities have largely failed to address the outbreak of xenophobic crimes that has been seen in the country since at least 2008 and bring those responsible to justice. Failure to act upon this sends a worrisome message that such acts are tolerated by the authorities,” said Deprose Muchena.

    “While respecting the freedom to express frustrations on socio-economic problems, the authorities have a duty to ensure effective strategies are in place to protect refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa against xenophobic attacks,”

    “This cannot be allowed to continue, the authorities must take immediate action to protect those most at risk of being outed and facing attacks because of their nationality.”

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  • If You Are An Immigrant (even a US Citizen), Here Are 9 Things You Should Know

    If You Are An Immigrant (even a US Citizen), Here Are 9 Things You Should Know

    Are you a Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, Visa Holder, or an Undocumented Immigrant? We recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself in our current version of America.

    The last couple of weeks have reminded immigrants, even naturalized U.S. citizens, that they were not born in the United States. Our office has received countless phone calls, emails, and social media messages from people worrying about what their family’s future in the United States holds.

    Most people want to know what they can do now to protect themselves from what promises to be a wave of anti-immigration activity by the federal government. Trump’s Executive Order on Interior Enforcement has some provisions that should make most Americans shiver. We recommend the following actions for each of the following groups:

    Naturalized U.S. citizens. In particular if you have a foreign accent, and you are traveling within 100 miles of any US Border (including the oceans), we strongly recommend carrying with you your US passport, or passport card, or a photocopy of your naturalization certificate. Because of the unpredictability of the current situation, we recommend keeping a photocopy of these documents in a safe place at your home, so that if necessary, someone will have access to it. You may very well need to prove your US Citizenship.
    Permanent residents. Most people don’t know this, but federal law requires that anyone who is NOT a US Citizen is required to carry with them at all times, evidence of their lawful status. You can see that for yourself at 8 USC 1304(e). So, carry your green card with you at all times! As noted for US citizens, you should also keep a photocopy of your green card in a safe place at home so that it can be accessed by someone in case you lose your card and you need it to identify yourself. Don’t forget about that 100 mile constitution free zone! You should also renew your green card a full 6 months before expiration. Don’t wait! If your green card has expired, renew it now. And, if it is not obvious at this point, you should start the process to naturalize immediately!

    Lawfully present nonimmigrants (e.g. DACA, U Visa, EADs, Visitors, Students, H1Bs, etc.). Carry with you at all times your Employment Authorization Document, I-94 card, passport with entry stamp, or other proof of lawful presence (see the law above). Carry the original with you and keep a photocopy in a safe place at home, especially if you are within the 100 mile border area (more than 60% of the US population lives in this zone).
    Undocumented immigrants in the US for more than two years. Keep with you at all times evidence that you have been present for at least two years. Why? Because President Trump just ordered DHS to examine activating a never used provision in immigration law that allows for the immediate removal from the US of anyone who cannot prove they have been here for two years (absent a claim for asylum). We do not know when ICE or CBP might activate the change, but we need to be prepared. Evidence that you might want with you are utility bills, receipts, Facebook posts, mail or any other documentation with your name going back two years, BUT, be very careful of using pay stubs if you have used false documents or information to get your job, as those are prosecutable offenses. Again you should also keep this information at home so that it is accessible to someone who can help you. Keep a photocopy at home. And, make sure you have a family plan in place to call for legal assistance if you fail to return home as usual.

    Undocumented immigrants in the US for less than two years. The bad news is that you need a plan in place on what will happen to your belongings and your family if you do not return home from work, shopping, or school. Make sure your relatives know they can look for your name on the ICE detainee website. We assume that ICE and CBP will not release you on bond, and that if you have a fear or returning home, you will need to be VERY vocal about letting everyone know if you are detained.

    Undocumented Immigrants with 10 years in the United States and children. You are eligible for Cancellation of Removal, and release on bond. Begin now to prepare the paperwork you will need to secure a bond, and to prove your case. You can read more about this process here. Don’t be caught unprepared!

    Non-US Citizens (Permanent Residents, Visa Holders, and Undocumented Immigrants) who have a criminal convictions OR are arrested. If you have a criminal conviction, or are even arrested for a crime, ICE has begun to detain people in this category and has released only a very few on bond. If you have relief from removal, you are eligible for bond, but, depending on where you are, you may not be released. Prepare for this by saving money for bond now, and have the paperwork organized so that our attorneys can quickly help seek a bond.

    Undocumented Immigrants with prior deportation orders. If you have a prior deportation order and have returned to the United States, you are subject to prosecution by the federal government for the crime of reentry after deportation. President Trump has ordered his U.S. Attorneys to increase the number of people charged with this crime. Depending on WHY you were deported (for example a serious criminal offense), you can spend up to five years in federal prison for reentering the US. Again, make your plans now about how you want to deal with this situation. If you have a deportation order and never left, NOW is the time to speak to an immigration attorney and seek advice about your options to reopen your deportation case.
    For those Arrested by ICE, especially for the undocumented–Have a plan in place. Decide now who picks up the kids from school/daycare, who will be authorized to do so with the school, who to contact first, have a power of attorney prepared for this. In the last few weeks we have heard of parents being picked up at school bus stops and at work and home while the kids are in school. Once it happens, there is no time to make arrangements.

    Also, do your research now into immigration attorneys that you may call in a moment’s notice. Keep their phone number handy and ready for family and friends to use. Or better yet, go see an excellent immigration attorney now and see what options you may have available to you.

    We give these warnings because we want people to be prepared NOT scared. Preparation will ensure that your family is protected. Contact us a 404-816-8611 or ckuck@immigration.net or jgavilanes@immigration.net, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your status.
    Charles Kuck

     

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