Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 compensation case has taken a new twist, after bribery allegations emerged against a number of Indonesian lawyers.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Indonesian lawyers Ivan Henry, Vini Wulandari, Gustavina Komala Gani and Mohammad Narobby, were on November 27 arrested in US over claims of bribery in Nairobi in the compensation of families of victims who perished in the crash.
The lawyers who work for P.A. a law firm in Miami, Florida, were arrested for attempted bribery and for illegally working in Kenya.
The lawyers are accused of trying to offer loads of money to the families of the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash in a bid to make them switch lawyers.
Media reports indicate that the lawyers (Indonesian) wanted the already hired Kenyan and US lawyers removed from the case, and instead Steve Marks of the firm of Podhurst Orseck hired for the work.
However, the plan was cut short after a family member represented by Clifford Law Offices called the authorities, forcing them to abort the mission.
It is said that Vini Walandari would contact the families with the pretext of providing news about the court case in Chicago and offering “comfort” for the families tragic loss. Once the family had agreed to meet her, then he would offer the victims’ families money to switch lawyers.
According to reports, Steve Marks of Podhurst Orseck would offer US$30,000.00 (Ksh3 million) to the local lawyers so they would terminate their existing contracts with law firms like Clifford Law Offices and give their cases to Steve Marks of Podhurst Orseck.
Steve Marks from Podhurst Orseck is also accused of paying an upfront payment to clients to switch lawyers, parting with as much as US$20,000.00 (Ksh2 million) to hundreds of thousands of dollars depending on the value of their cases.
“We are outraged with the unethical practices of Steve Marks from the Podhurst Orseck law firm in Kenya. We will file complaints with the Bar of Florida and will seek punishment from the local Kenyan authorities.These are very serious violations of the law and ethics rules that could cause for these lawyers to be disbarred and be criminally charged,” Mercy Wambua, the Chief Executive Officer of the Law Society Of Kenya is quoted by a local media.
The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing Max 8 was aflight from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya and crashed on March 10, 2019 near the town of Bishoftu six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people aboard.
The crash, which has international attention, led to the U.S. Department of Justice investigating Boeing’s development process.
The crash led to the death of 36 Kenyans.