ECAO, A Community Looted By Its Guardian

ECAO, A Community Looted By Its Guardian

By Aaron Berhane In Meftih’s edition of May 2009, Mr. Solomon Abraha wrote an enlightening article titled “ECAO, Cover of Lies, Deceit, Co...

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By Aaron Berhane

In Meftih’s edition of May 2009, Mr. Solomon Abraha wrote an enlightening article titled “ECAO, Cover of Lies, Deceit, Corruption and theft”. He pinpointed Estifanos Neguse, the Director of Eritrean Cultural Center (E.C.C.) and representative of the Eritrean Government in Toronto, as the main obstacle of the community. He outlined that Estifanos and his messengers have been the cause of the stagnation of Eritrean Canadian Association of Ontario (E.C.A.O.). One of the instances of corruption he stated was, Estifanos’ involvement in the Ukrainian Cultural Center (U.C.C.) hall rental.

Mr. Estifanos had been renting the hall on behalf of E.C.A.O. in every New Year’s eve from Ukrainian Cultural Center (UCC). However, he never told ECAO the actual rental fees, instead he was charging ECAO an amount that was highly inflated and incompatible with the actual rental hall fees. He had been messed up in these fraudulent activities from 2001 to 2007. He was pocketing thousands of dollars of ECAO’s (people’s) money. His act is a betrayal of trust to his own community and government.

Meftih newspaper has been working to verify the validity of the various criticisms that have been aired by Solomon and many concerned members of the community. It has found out that Solomon Abraha’s statement is true, in fact it goes more than 100% of its expectation. Meftih is presenting to you the surprising detailed accounts of its findings.

The hall rental fees of the UCC is not $7,000 per night as Estifanos and his foot soldiers insinuate. Document bits conversation. Please see table 1 below, the list of prices acquired from UCC.


The hall accommodates about 600 people. It is rented $1,500 for an event of 2 hours and half. For an overnight event it charges $2,500, however if the event continues beyond 2:00 a.m., it charges $300 for every additional hour. As such, if the overnight event extends up till 3:00 a.m., the total charge is $2,800. It also charges $199.95 for extra power needs, and $75 for the screen usage. Therefore, the total hall rental becomes $3,074.95.

This is the hard fact that you can recognize it instantly. Unfortunately, Mr. Bogdan, the administrator of U.C.C., and Mr. Estifanos Neguse, director of the E.C.C., have attempted to cover-up this glaring fact.

Sometime around mid May 2009, I went to interview the administrator of U.C.C. Mr. Bogdan Viden chuk so as to explore the issue raised by Mr. Solomon Abraha. Initially, Mr. Bogdan attempted to cut the conversation and he was reluctant to be interviewed. Later though, when I pressed him that he is the primary person that would be accountable, he expressed his willingness to give his version of the story. I did not waste a minute, I headed towards the centre. An hour later, I showed up at his office. It was vivid to see his nervousness, his face was puzzled and his hands were literally shaking.

“What do you want from me?” Mr. Bogdan asked.

“Some members of our community are blaming you for renting them the hall with an inflated price. Have heard such accusation?” I asked.

“Yes, Estifanos told me,” he said.

“When?” I asked.

“He was here a few days ago”, he said.

“Why was Estifanos here?” I asked him instantly.

“He was here to pick the receipt of $1,000 that he has not collected. They are saying the hall rental fee is $5,000 simply because they saw the receipt of $5,000. Estifanos is not defrauding anyone. He has nothing to do with that. For all those years, I haven’t had any problem working with him. My problem is with those new guys.” he explained while organizing the papers on his desk.

“Who are those new guys?” I asked.

He said that he doesn’t know their names but he gave a descriptive feature a bald and a short man. His description of the two individuals fits that of Negussie and Ferede.

Those two individuals came to rent the hall and gave Mr. Bogdan a bogus cheque, though they know the U.C.C. accepts cash or certified cheque only.

“Then what did you do to their bogus cheque? Why did they do that at the first place?” I asked.

“What do you expect me to do, I just saved it here” he replied while looking at the slightly pulled down drawer of his desk.

“Could you show me that cheque please? It will help us to discuss on concrete evidence.”

“Sure why not.” He said pulling out the drawer of his desk. “They are just accusing Estifanos for no reason, I haven’t had any problem working with him.” He pulled out the drawer, picked the bogus cheque from its place and showed it to me. (see copy of cheque).

Copy of “Certified” ChequeECAO Bogus Check

E.C.A.O. rented the U.C.C. hall for December 31, 2008, that’s New Year’s Eve. The rental fee for that night’s party was $3,074.95 (including extra power and screen usage, and the extra time of one hour). But Negussie Tewolde, the president of E.C.A.O. and Ferede Abraha, the current Sports and Fundraising director, deliberately gave the administrator of the centre a $4,000 bogus certified cheque. They knew very well that cheque wouldn’t be cashed out whatsoever.

“First of all, I told them that I do not owe them this amount of money,” Mr. Bogdan continued, “Second, I told them that I accept cash or certified cheque only. I also told them, there is no such type of certified cheque.”

Notice that the bogus certified cheque has a ‘Certified’ seal stamped on it (see copy of cheque).

Negussie and Ferede definitely knew that the U.C.C. accepts only cash or certified cheque for any rental services they provide. However, Negussie and Ferede chose to prepare this bogus certified cheque, knowing well that U.C.C cannot cash it out. Their intention was to deceive the treasurer and other board members of E.C.A.O., and convince them that the hall rental fee is $4,000.

Finally, they paid U.C.C. in cash the actual rental fee which is $3,074.95, Mr. Bogdan said.

Notice here: when the hall was booked by Estifanos, the rental fee was claimed as $7,000 for the first five years and $6,000 for the last two years, respectively.

When E.C.A.O. directly made the booking itself for New Year’s Eve party of 2009, the rental fees was lowered to $3074.95. This is additional evidence that shows the fraudulent activities of Mr. Estifanos Neguse in the last seven years.

To be continued