The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) has indicted the Managing Director of the Liberian Petroleum Refining Corporation (LPRC), along with other current and former senior government officials for their alleged involvement in the misapplication of millions of United States Dollars in connection with various government transactions.
Others indicted by LACC include Clemenceau Urey, former Board Chair of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL); Miatta Beyslow, former Minister of Commence and Industry; Milton Teahjay, Superintendent of Sinoe County; David Kortie, publisher of the Flash Point Newspaper; Jusufu S. Keita, public relations officer at the Ministry of Public Works; Foday Kromah and Amos Koon, employees of the Ministry of Finance, among others.
The government officials and other individuals were charged with multiple crimes including criminal facilitation, misapplication of entrusted property, illegal disbursement of public funds and making expenditures without supporting documentary evidences.
Making the disclosure at the Information Ministry’s regular press briefing yesterday, the LACC boss, Cllr. James Verdier, Jr., said that his commission had forwarded the names of the accused to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) for prosecution.
MOJ is the prosecuting arm of the government.
Cllr. Verdier alleged that the Managing director of the LPRC and the former Commerce and Industry Minister single-handedly awarded a contract of over US$1million to several petroleum companies, including Aminata and Sons, without going through the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) procedure.
On the part of Superintendent Teahjay, the LACC head explained that he misapplied over US$65,000 of the county development funds.
“[In] some of the cases we would give them the opportunity to restitute whatsoever amount they have allegedly mismanaged from the government,” the LACC boss stated. “If for any reason the Ministry of Justice showed its inability to handle these cases, we would take further decision,” he said.
Cllr. Verdier did not however explain what ‘further decision’ his Commission would take if the Justice Ministry delays to prosecute the accused public servants.
Mr. Verdier said that the “issue of corruption has been with Liberia since 1847. This is a virus in Liberia. The more we accommodate this virus, the more it becomes difficult for us as Liberians. If resources are diverted, health institutions, education systems and others are not built, that is corruption,” said Verdier.
He maintained that “corruption led to the failure of many societies; and this government is taking steps to ensure that things get better for every Liberian.”
According to him, it was important for the Liberian people to be informed and understand the difficulties and challenges faced by the commission in its efforts to fight corruption and the progress that it has made.
Touching on the Code of Conduct, Cllr. Verdier noted that “all government officials, including Directors, Ministers and other heads of Agencies, were requested to start declaring their assets for the month of June, 2014 as mandated by the Code of Conduct signed June 20, 2014.”
“This allowed all government officials to declare their assets before taking public office and after leaving public office to carry out assets declaration also,” said Cllr. Verdier.
Commenting on the progress of his Commission, the LACC boss said, it recently arrested 25 bags of rice from Red Cross volunteers that were intended for Ebola victims and the matter was under investigation.
“Three persons have been recommended to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution for theft of property and criminal facilitation,” he added.
“We are monitoring Ebola funding that are being donated to all government Ministries and Agencies. We are also monitoring money, logistics and other support that will be donated by private individuals and international partners toward the fight against the Ebola virus disease,” Cllr. Verdier cautioned.
Speaking about LACC’s contribution to the Ebola fight , Cllr. Verdier said the commission provided vehicles, billboards on Ebola awareness and other services in a bid to contain the spread of the virus. “We are pleased to hear that Ebola is receding all over the country,” he said.
Cllr. Verdier said he was happy to have informed the public about the issue of accountability of public funds by government officials even before the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Liberia.