Ethiopian inquiry points to illegal imports, possible corruption in Huawei deal
Customs authority alleges that Huawei avoided taxes
Government investigators say that Huawei Technologies illegally imported $13 million worth of telecom equipment into Ethiopia, adding to the number of cases involving allegedly corrupt activities by Chinese telecom companies in Africa.
The equipment was allegedly imported into the country in the name of Ethio Telecom, a state-owned telecom company, without Ethio’s knowledge, according to the Ethiopia Revenue & Customs Authority (ERCA). This was done to avoid paying taxes, ERCA said.
ERCA has said it will confiscate the equipment and is likely to slap the company with tax avoidance charges. The equipment has been stuck at the country’s port since last year.
Ethio Telecom signed an $800 million telecom equipment deal with Huawei and another $800 million contract with China-based ZTE to expand its mobile phone network only three months ago. The equipment under investigation, however, was imported into the country toward the end of last year.
Questions are being asked regarding the timing of the imports. Industry are asking how Huawei Technologies knew it should start importing the equipment about nine months before the Ethio tender was actually awarded to the company.
Huawei declined to comment on the matter.