General Cases Court Declines Tax Cause Filed Against Sabafon

National Yemen

Hamed al-Ahmer

By NY Staff

The Public Funds Prosecution, which is specialized in anti-corruption cases, has frozen all accounts of Sheikh Hamid Al-Ahmar in Yemeni banks. The amount of money frozen is estimated to be 39 billion riyals. They have also stopped any sale transactions or transfer of ownership of all his shares.

A judicial source in the prosecution said to Saba Agency that the orders, which are supported by the resumption of the public funds division in Sana’a, are effective until all investigations in corruption cases and the acquisition of illegal money that Hamid and his family are accused of are completed.

According to observers, the Houthis allowed themselves to freeze Hamid’s and Ali Mohsen’s accounts after they took over the capital Sana’a, which resulted in the absence of authorities.

The prosecution issued in November an order to reserve all accounts and holdings of the businessman Hamid Al-Ahmar after the closure of most of his companies like KFC.

The judicial source says that the measures that were taken by the prosecution came as a result of an order that was issued in a public hearing in the division’s hall last February. The order refused to accept the appeal that Hamid presented. The reason behind the refusal was that the orders were issued under the authority of the state and before the investigations were completed. Also, the order isn’t of one that can be resumed by direct ways and doing so will make it illegal.

The prosecution ordered the Financial Information Unit to appoint their specialists to collect the financial information concerning the corruption cases and the acquisition of funds illegally by Hamid and his family. Also, they have ordered them to stop any money transfers unless the prosecution approves. The prosecution asked for a report including the family’s accounts in Yemeni banks and the amounts of money transferred in order to carry out the investigation.

Sabafon, which launched on February 2001, was the first GSM Network operator in Yemen. The company, which is represented by Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar, the chairman of the company and other management and executive staff, covers 68% of Yemen’s population. The chairman Sheik Hamid Al-Ahmar has been accused of defrauding the state by manipulating the company’s finances and profit margins and evading taxes. The Public Prosecution as a result filed a cause against Sabafon accusing the company of tax evasion.

The General Cases Court, however, declined the case filed by the Public Prosecution. The case accused the company of tax evasion. It has been mentioned that the General Cases Court held a number of meetings concerning this case. These meetings were accompanied with misleading media campaigns and allegations speaking about Sabafon’s evasion from paying taxes, which was proven wrong in the hearing that was held on Monday headed by Judge Radhwan Al-Nimir to discuss the raised case by the second public prosecution. It then decided to decline the criminal case filed against the company.

A source close to Shiek Hamid Al-Ahmar denied the court ruling on the appeal that Hamid Al-Ahmar presented concerning freezing his accounts in local banks.  He confirmed that the case is still awaiting the Yemeni judiciary.

Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed quoted the source that said, “there isn’t a decree concerning this, and the publicized statement of yesterday, Friday, on Saba News Agency, which is currently ruled by the Houthis, probably resulted from their annoyance by the decree that was issued last week which clearing Sabafon Company from the tax evasion case.”

“Al-Ahmar group is legal, and what is happening is that Houthis are employing media and judiciary maliciously against other parties,” the source added.