BY FASIKA TADESSE
The decision was made after forensic tests were conducted to ensure the authenticity of prosecution documents presented
A business in Court over an event organised in South Sudan on the young country’s first anniversary of independence has led to a Court battele.
Orchid Business Group Plc, owned by Akiko Seyoum, has been asked to pay 42 million Br.
The group is a family of companies, including Orchid General Contractor, a grade one contractor; Wonder Wheel Business Plc, an importer of finishing materials for buildings and Orchid Machinery Rental, which rents out construction machineries. Akiko owns 999 shares in this group, with one share owned by Yeshihareg Asta. Akiko administers the company as its general manger.
Orchid had a contract from the government of South Sudan to organise the Independence Day anniversary event on July 9, 2011. Orchid worked with Yonas Kassahun, an Ethiopian Diaspora from Germany, to provide various materials, according to the file. Yonas later told Fortune that his part of the deal specifically involved the supply of two expensive generators, air conditioners, kitchen materials and other equipment, bought from Germany, which were used for the event. This was in addition to supplying all the food and drinks required.
The charge Yonas filed at the Federal High Court on November 5, 2013, claimed that his agreement with Orchid was that he would be paid 42 million Br within six months of the event for the work and equipment delivered.
“We agreed that Orchid would pay me the money within six months after the Company received the payment from the government of South Sudan,” he said. “As a grant, they gave me a document through its sister company, Sheldon International General Trading, but they refused to pay me the money.”
Sheldon is a general trading company based in Dubai.
As a reply for the charge, Orchid submitted its statement of defence on December 16, 2013, stating that they do not have a deal with the plaintiff for the event organisation in South Sudan. The other claim says the document the plaintiff submitted to the Court as evidence is illegal. The statement also claims that Sheldon is not a sister company of Orchid.
The other defence point raised by orchid was that the plaintiff did not present any bank documents or pro forma invoices for the purchase of the items. Moreover, Orchid argued that the payment agreement, signed by Engida Workneh, deputy general manger of Orchid, could not represent the company, adding that the documents were falsified.
But, on March 24, 2014, the judge Shemsu Sirgaga rejected the statement of defence after receiving forensic documents that proved the signature was by Engida Workneh, Orchid’s deputy manager, and that the stamp on the agreement was Orchid’s.
The general manger of Orchid, Akiko, admitted in Court that she had a share at Sheldon International General Trading during the oral proceedings, and the deputy general manger of Orchid, Engida, is the general manger of Sheldon.
The judgment also explained that the plaintiff had submitted documents that are approved by the government of Ethiopia, which shows he made a purchase of equipment for the Sudanese liberation day celebration. The judgment on Orchid to pay the plaintiff 42 million Br along with nine percent interest to be calculated from march 2012 was made on Monday June 9, 2014.
“We feel evidence and arguments we presented did not receive the weight they deserve, so we will seek reversal at the appellate level,” said Akiko.