Ermias AmelgaAddis Ababa, Ethiopia – West-educated investment banker turned real estate developer and founder and chairman of Access Real Estate, Ermias Amelga, has returned back to Ethiopia, it was learnt.

Ermias, who left the country two years ago after spending a night behind bars accused of writing a bad cheque, returned back on Thursday. The renowned businessman returned exactly two years after his departure.

Ermias had been dealing with government officials for some time to secure a risk-free return. Finally, the government agreed to give Ermais legal protection – officially signed from the Ministry of Justice – and that he would not be incarcerated upon his return.

In addition, he has been instructed to fix the loose ends faced by his company, Access Real Estate, which is a requisite from the side of the government. In that regard, Access Real Estate will finish and deliver houses to homebuyers.

The real estate company, which collected money from more than two thousand homebuyers, failed to keep its promise of building and delivering houses to buyers.

Now Ermias, is expected to face irate homebuyers who went as far as filing criminal charges against him.

In a bid to find a lasting solution to the problem, a steering committee chaired by Kebede Chanie, Minister of Trade, was established by the Office of the Prime Minister to look into the matter about a year ago.

The committee includes Mekuria Haile, Assefa Beyu, and representatives from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, Document Authentication and Registration Office, the Addis Ababa City Administration’s Land Management Bureau and the home buyers’ committee.

Formed by Ermias together with five shareholders, with a 50,000 birr registered capital, Access Real Estate came up with too-good-to-be-true offers of building homes using steel structures and magnesium boards introduced by YBEL Industrial. An undertaking that aimed at cutting construction costs in half and reduce the build period to just six months.

During its formation Ermias, the then CEO, brought onboard Access Capital Services SC, an aspiring private equity firm in Ethiopia, where he owns a major share.

Five years after the company’s formation and three years after it started operations, it was not able to deliver a single unit from any of the 19 sites it claims to have been developing.

Since his return in 1996 after 8 years of undergraduate and graduate academic training and a 12-year successful stint in investment banking in the US, he has been a leading member of the initiative to establish the Addis Ababa Stock Exchange. 

Ermias is also best known for launching a pioneer bottled water company, Apex Bottling, producer of Highland Springs which at the moment is synonymous with bottled water.

Source: The Reporter

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