After two years in exile and a month since his release on bail from custody, Ermias T.Amelga has broken his silence. He apologised to homebuyers, taking full responsibility for the mishaps at Access Real Estate (ARE).
“I may have many excuses, good or bad, and many unexpected events may have contributed, but at the end of the day, someone has to take responsibility, and I do,” reads Ermias’ testimonial letter.
This six-page letter was circulated through email to homebuyers and others involved in the process.
The letter also tells his version of the story, for the first time, particularly in public fora. The narration includes policy-level obstacles, such as citywide “no work orders” on leased land.
The bigger part, however, comes in the pointing of fingers at specific individuals and groups – “a small group of selfish and unscrupulous individuals”, he calls them in his letter.
Col. Abraha Alemayehu, the current CEO of ARE, is apparently behind the whole mess, with failures that led to Ermias’ arrest, which he called unfortunate. A homebuyers’ association chairman is also identified as an accomplice in the entanglement of ARE.
Homebuyers seem to stand on different sides, with some opting to follow from a distance.
“This is a trojan horse, aimed to divide different interest and shift blame,” a homebuyer who received the letter commented.
While another believed that this letter came at the right moment.
“The board and the present structure has done nothing except actively placing the blame on Ermias,” another member of the homebuyers’ association told Fortune. “If Ermias says he is ready, then it’s time to give him the chance.”
In the letter, Ermias stated that – “My personal involvement will be necessary for any solution – and I thus remain prepared and willing to make all the required sacrifice to correct past mistakes”.
Ermias claimed that he had been close to concluding a deal with a Chinese company, but that it had failed to materialise
He focuses his blame at Abraha, whose appointment as the CEO of Access came after Ermias had single-handedly selected him.
“He is just the same ol’ same ol’ Ermias”, Abraha said in response to the accusation. “He is trying to complicate things instead of becoming a part of the solution.”
He went on to explain how Ermias had told the board that he had found Chinese partners, but when asked to bring them to hold a discussion he refused.
“He said he had signed an agreement with them,” explained Abraha. “We also asked him to bring over the agreements, but again he refused.”
Ermias, in the same letter, wrote that the management and the board had agreed not to sign documents.
This claim, however, was countered by Abraha, who said that Ermias had tried to convince him to sign documents related to transactions for the Gabi Real Estate and the old Imperial Hotel without the knowledge of the board.
Nuredien Mohammed, general manager of Alle Bejimela, and chairman of the technical committee organised to resolve the stalemate at ARE, declined to comment on the issue.
In 2012, it was said that Access Real Estate had sold the Imperial Hotel to the Metal Engineering Corporation (MetEC) for 83 million Br. This was sold to the latter by the original owner, the Asefaw’s Family Plc, for 57 million Br to Access.
All his narration is simply to create public confusion, Mebrat W. Tenssae, a board chairperson of ARE, told Fortune.
In his last statement, Ermias expressed his intention to still maintain an involvement in the process.
“I stand ready to make all the needed sacrifices to achieve our mutual objectives,” he stated.
ARE is now under an audit process by the government, which has almost been completed. It is said that the report is to be announced soon.