Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Did investor cross the line by offering Liberian President a $25K cheque in public gathering?
Monrovia -
n the eve of a hotly-contested political campaign season, a multi-million dollar investment firm appears to be entangled in a web of Liberia’s post-war politics wrangle amid allegations involving bribery or “cold water” to of all persons, the Liberian head of state.
LIBINIC Oil Palm Inc has in recent days expressed disgust at suggestions conveyed in local media reports that it ridiculed the office of the Liberian head of state by openly offering an envelope containing a check of $US25,000. Now the opposition have picked up the issue hoping to score political points ahead of what many predict would be a brutal campaign season.
The offer was made during Sirleaf’s visit to Palm Bay last weekend, to inaugurate the company’s new multi-million dollar palm oil mill. The opposition now wants to have the last say.
This week, Israel Akinsanya, chairman of the Liberty Party indicted the president for accepting a financial gift from a foreign company. Said Akinsanya: “The envelope is evidence of an attempt to commit a crime—bribery or at least illegal gratuity! The President is said to have rejected the money, but who currently has it? Has it been deposited into government treasury or returned to LIBINIC? Because if an agent of the President is in possession of that envelope, then the President did not reject the money; the President constructively received the check. Has the Manger been arrested for attempting to bribe the President or for offering illegal gratuity to the Head of our Government?”
Amid allegations of bribery attempt, the company defended the action in a statement shortly after the controversy broke by stating categorically that it is a publicly listed company on the London Aim Stock Exchange and bribery or any form of kick-back is not and could not be part of its culture and operational procedures.
Foreign Corrupt Act Breaches
Foreign firms are confined to strict laws. The United States for example has the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act which demands the American companies are not allowed to give a penny to countries oversees.
The FCPA came into play as a result of the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission investigations in the mid-1970s, over 400 U.S. companies admitted making questionable or illegal payments in excess of $300 million to foreign government officials, politicians, and political parties. The abuses ran the gamut from bribery of high foreign officials to secure some type of favorable action by a foreign government to so-called facilitating payments that were made to ensure that government functionaries discharged certain ministerial or clerical duties. One major example was the Lockheed bribery scandals, in which officials of aerospace company Lockheed paid foreign officials to favor their company's products.  Another was the Bananagate scandal in which Chiquita Brands had bribed the President of Honduras to lower taxes. Congress enacted the FCPA to bring a halt to the bribery of foreign officials and to restore public confidence in the integrity of the American business system. The Act was signed into law by President Jimmy Carter on December 19, 1977, and amended in 1998 by the International Anti-Bribery Act of 1998 which was designed to implement the anti-bribery conventions of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
But LIBINICO insists its action was not in breach of bribery. The company insists that the gesture was made publicly to show that the company was transparent and was making a public donation in recognition and appreciation of the president’s development efforts, especially her initiatives and programs that target and benefit Liberian women and children. The company also said that the donation was part of its corporate responsibility  to honor the more than 200 ordinary Liberian women who now work for the company in various capacities.
‘Uncontrollable corruption’ Liberty Party Says
Despite the explanation, the opposition Liberty Party says the action constitutes uncontrollable corruption, which it says, characterizes the government, going as far as to label the act as public bribery or undisguised illegal gratuity.
But LIBINIC says its operations have always adhered to the highest ethical and legal standards of Liberia and regrets that an offer that recognizes and honors the President’s commitment and efforts to improve the living conditions of ordinary Liberians could be misrepresented in such unprofessional manner. The company states that it has never offered, it did not offer bribe, and it shall not offer bribes to any Liberians.
The Government of Liberia and LIBINIC, on December 31, 2007, signed a 50-year Concession Agreement granting LIBINIC rights to operate on 34,500 acres in New Cess, Grand Bassa County. But the opposition party lamented what it says were contrasts slipping under the radar of the Liberian people. “Unlike other concession agreements, the contract neither contains the total amount of the investment nor the number of jobs it would create. John Bestman, the President’s former Campaign Manager and a senior executive of the President’s Unity Party, is reported to have financial interest in LIBINIC,” the statement said.
The controversy broke out on Monday, April 25, 2011, when the Daily Observer and The News Newspapers reported that the company’s manager, Peter Bayliss, sitting at the high table along with official guests, was seen pushing the envelope towards the direction of the President.” Media reports went on to say that the President rejected the envelope, which was “ostensibly offered her (President Sirleaf) as a token of appreciation for the program.”
A FrontPageAfrica reporter who also travelled with the President quoted Bayliss as saying that the envelope contained a small donation on behalf of the board of PLC to her and to her market women foundation. Said Bayliss, “We would like to make a small donation on behalf of the board of Equatorial Palm Oil to you and to your market women’s foundation and we hope that you will put the money to good use and that it will help to build some of the extra parts of the development puzzle that you are putting together.”
When Bayliss concluded his statement the President stood up in response by posing a challenge to the company, by asking them to work along with the Superintendent of the county Julia Duncan Cassell in completing an unfinished market building for the women of the county with what is contained in the envelope and also suggested that a second market building be added to the project.

Liberty Party, in offensive mood suggested that when the President said that she could not receive the check and that she did not want to know the amount of the check, she was obviously trying, but failed, to avoid the appearance of “illegal gratuity.”
“So what did the President do? She directed that the check be turned over to the Superintendent of Grand Bassa County, Julia Ducan Cassel, who happens to be the President’s personal friend and a senior executive of Unity Party, for subsequent disbursement. Superintendent Cassel has been indicted by various government audits, none of which has been acted upon by the Sirleaf administration. She may therefore not be a fit custodian of the “rejected” money.”
Split down the middle: Liberians weigh in
Since the controversy broke, Liberians on both sides of the aisle have been weighing in.
J. Clement Wright, a local businessman says he sees nothing wrong with a foreign company giving financial gifts: Says Wright: “I saw it morally right when I heard it on the news. In every country, you will find gestures being extended from officials and managers of companies. Today it was clarified by Cyrus W. Badio, the presidential press secretary that the money was not given to the president for her own personal use but for some developmental project.”
But Wright also wonders whether the company had any ulterior motives. “Is LIBINCO looking for any concession agreement from the government? No! The company is accredited as a legal company already operating in the country, so they are not looking for favor with the president. I think that money was in good fate, for the citizens of Grand Bassa County to benefit.”
Amos Sandiaman, a technician says the action on the part of LIBINIC was clearly a sign of bribery.  Says Sandiaman: “As a head of state who went on a program, and a manager of a company gave her an envelope without indicating the purpose of the money, first rejected it and later said it should be used to build market ground. I believe if it was in a close door, madam Silreaf could have hold that envelope because it was in a public manner, that is why she refused the envelope.”
James B. Nyamen, another businessman counters that he did not see the act as bribery: "Check and balance, I will tell you that the manager who gave this envelope who does not understand the traditional in Liberia. In an open place to give an envelope to the president other people will think you are bribing the president but I think it’s not a bribe.  I don’t think he meant it was it’s a bribe to the president.  The president did not receive the envelope at least she only directed it so some projects.”
With election campaign season only weeks away, political observers say the opposition will likely continue to chip away at potential loopholes likely to spark a political firestorm. The case of concession agreements is usually a hot-botton topic capable of igniting a storm and the stakes have never been higher for the incumbent government, already embroiled in another controversy regarding the controversial Western Cluster deal awarded to the Israeli firm, Elelnilto.
In the case of the Liberty Party, the constructive receipt of the LIBINIC check by the President, her public “rejection” notwithstanding, puts into disrepute the office of the President, exposing it to the influence of the highest bidder. The party asked: “Why did a British Manager feel that he could offer money to President Sirleaf and get away with it? A situation whereby individuals are allowed to make unrestrained “donations” to the President with unrestricted use of such funds by the President, subjects not only the President, but also our entire system of governance, to the tentacles of corruption. The transferring of the check to the Viceroy of the President did not cure the problem.”
REPORTERS CLARA K. MALLAH and Wade Williams contributed to this report




John S. Morlu has ended his four-year contract as Auditor General of the Republic of Liberia, below is the full text of his farewell statement:

Fellow Liberians,

My international contract to serve as Auditor General with the European Union has ended today. At the appropriate time, the true story of the reconstruction and reform of the GAC will be told. But for now, I leave the post of Auditor General of Liberia in peace.

I am grateful and blessed that God sailed me alive through the rough waves of the last four years. I feel exceptionally blessed because other frontline corruption fighters were—and are--not so fortunate. They were—or have been--thrown in prison on made up charges, killed or made to flee their own countries. I was blessed. I survived on the mercy of God and so for that at the age of 37, I remained grateful.

I am grateful to the President and the international partners for giving me such an awesome opportunity to have built a credible and well respected Supreme Audit Institution, the GAC. It was a difficult challenge to face an entrenched archaic social order and successfully build a credible and professional auditing institution in a country wherein everyone has agreed that corruption is systemic and impunity is the rule of the day. But such was the challenge and such was the time. At some point, I felt like Daniel thrown in a Lion’s den, surviving only at the mercy of God.

I am even most grateful to the ordinary Liberians, the media, Civil Society and the capable and professional staff of the GAC who gave me courage and supported my contribution to fighting corruption in Liberia. I could not have been lucky surviving 4 years of tumult without the support of ordinary Liberians, the media, Civil Society and GAC staff.

I am deeply honored and blessed to have recruited from the ranks of the best and brightest of Liberians that the country has to offer. The staff of the GAC have been with me Sundays to Sundays for 4 years fighting to ensure that public resources were fully accounted for and the manner in which public resources collected and expended were done in a transparent manner with the highest level of probity.

I am glad that the staff of the GAC were able and willing to demonstrate that there are young and professional Liberians who can put this Nation first, with the highest level of ethical standards. There was no incidence of bribe or a compromised report for the past 4 years. GAC staff live mainly on their salaries. I have asked them to remain committed to the fight against corruption as this, too is our country.

I remain hopeful that the fight against corruption will continue in full swing. A sustainable Democracy builds a lasting democracy not on the foundation of corruption. It is also impossible to build a sustainable democracy on impunity. Instead, the foundation for any democracy is contained in the rule of law, accountability and transparency. Corruption and impunity undermine these three cardinal pillars.

Corruption and financial mismanagement undermine the well-being of the entire citizens, creating the lack of confidence in the leadership of Government to improve the collective well-being of the people. Unless we fight corruption to protect public resources, we will continue to see Ghana as the number one tourist destination and the place a Liberian has to go to save his or her life when faced with health problems.

Our democracy will remain in trouble unless there is maximum commitment at the highest levels of Government to ensure that corruption is reduced or eliminated. Maximum commitment must be demonstrated through moral clarity and purposeful agenda. Our commitment must be unequivocal and categorical.

I have reminded the leadership of this country that the best way to reduce corruption is to limit the opportunity for employees and officials to engage in fraud, waste and abuse of public resources. This is achievable when we commit ourselves to putting into place effective systems and control over financial management and program execution. In the absence of effective systems and controls, in the next 20 years, and it has been the case in past 163 years, each audit will reveal massive mismanagement of public resources to the disadvantage of the ordinary Liberians. I have therefore devoted a significant portion, 80 to 90 percent, of my audits on issues of systems and controls and compliance with extant laws.

While it is not being my place to argue for the implementation of the findings of the audit reports, I believe it would be prudent to do so not only to limit corruption but to build local and international confidence in Government as a good stewardship for internally generally cash flow and donor funding. Significant private sector borrowing in the international financial marketplace to finance long term investments in productive assets will also depend on reliable and accurate financial statements, as Liberia would be required to be rated by Moodys or S&P, as Ghana, Botswana etc.

There is also the need to muster the political and moral will to ensure that there is an effective enforcement mechanism to punish people who engage in corruption. The general attitude amongst lawless and corrupt people who often say, “nothing will happen to me” has got to be brought to an end, as such a culture of impunity only increases the number of people who will join the corruption bandwagon with the ultimate belief that they will go scout free. In the end, youth unemployment will continue to remain high as I have indicated time and time again that corruption does not create jobs. Bogus companies that are used to steal public monies also do not create jobs, as they are created for the sole purpose of undermining the public trust and impoverish the ordinary Liberians.

Millions of dollars were expended on County Development Fund and not much jobs are created. This is a dilemma wherein increases in Government spending are not corresponding with increases in job creation. Increases in Government expenditure is supposed to create jobs and employment. It is indicated that we have generated over US$1 billion dollars over the past 5 years. But no indication as to how much formal employment has been created with such large sum. This is like U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt Great Society initiative not creating jobs but it did in America because public monies was accounted for and those who did not account were legally sanctioned and thrown in prison. If you want to change minds and attitude, the solution lies in a punishment and reward system.

I have indicated time and time again that it is not how much revenue is generated by a Country but principally that the revenue is expended and accounted by those who are appointed and elected to serve as stewards of the public trust. Impunity and Corruption have been the fundamental issues facing Liberia and as a result we are deemed highly corrupt by US State Department Report, by Transparency International etc and are ranked low on the Human Development Index. Corruption and impunity have also created the following paradoxes:

• Growth Without Development

• Rich in Natural Resources But Very Poor citizenry

• Increased Government Expenditure Without Corresponding Job Creation

• Importing Our Way to Prosperity

President George Washington indicated “All I can say is that (America) has ever had, and I trust she will ever have, my honest exertions to promote her interest. I cannot hope my services have been the best; but my heart tells me they have been the best I can render.” I, too, I believe that I rendered the best I could offer for Liberia. I remain hopeful that one day corruption will be truly the thing of the past and that we will not continue in the “growth without development” and the resource rick curse dilemma that have characterized governance in Liberia, to date.

Corruption and impunity hurt everyone, because both menaces also increase the number of beggars in Liberia and make the little ones to die early for preventable diseases and the large number of youth unemployed, wallowing on street corners just looking for an opportunity.

It is important to sack a well performing Auditor General for a purported disrespect but to keep the corrupt in the corridors of power. This is Liberia, our country, one nation, indivisible but for the benefit of a few. In life integrity and independent thinking matters, as one day we shall die and be held accountable by God. So it is important to lose US$15,000 per month job than to lose one’s integrity, principle and independence.

I will never say “I will be back.” I have not left and will not leave as it is important to keep fighting on. I will remain engaged in the fight against corruption. I am glad audit reports are constitutional documents with no statute of limitation.

In America, I got paid a handsome salary to add value to shareholders. In Liberia, I got paid a “lucrative salary” to add value to Liberian taxpayers. Thank you! God Bless Liberia and God bless us all.

I remain,


John S. Morlu II


Liberians Take On President’s Visit To Bassa

Hamilton B. Smith FPA STAFF WRITER


George Weah
 “The President’s visit to Grand Bassa County did not make the citizens happy because her visit in Grand Bassa County reflects the rate of poverty our people presently live in. When we talk about poverty, it means our people are still suffering and there is no achievement for our people.”
 A. Tokpah Tobey
“Ah, anyway, the president’s visit to Grand Bassa was very fine and we enjoyed the atmosphere looking at past presidents coming to Grand Bassa and her coming was okay because she touched on so many things pertaining to the youth and also on development. And you see when we have a president of this nation like that who will come down to the people, and going on a national-wide tour to inspect whatsoever project that was given to the county for development and try to inspect it, it will be okay.”

S. Augustine Yeahgar
“Well, every president that comes to office has a mixed routine visit and I think if that is what she’s doing, then it is in place.”

Edith H. Flomo
“Well, I feel so fine and happy because her coming here is very peaceful and we as the women of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County are very happy about her. We welcome her here.” 
Tarr Gbadeh Sayweh
“I for one as a citizen of this county, I feel very happy for the warm welcome of the president. We appreciate her so much because she has done so much for our county and the level of development that we are experiencing every day. I mean, I was happy to have received her.”
Enoch Henries
“The visit of the president to Grand Bassa County is not bad. Its fine to Bassa, but the only problem that I have is that whenever she is coming that is when people do what they are supposed to do in the county. For example: the current facility in the county for the past time, there has been no electricity, we have been in darkness. But because she was coming we have had electricity for the past two nights. Even our roads and things have been bushy, but because people heard that she was coming that’s why they started to do their work and it is almost like an ad-servant work.”

Mary Freeman
I feel fine, I enjoyed everything. Everything is fine here. I feel happy for her coming here.”
Prince Joe
“Yes, for me I feel very fine for her coming here, but what makes me to feel bad is the behavior of the county officials. Whenever the president is coming that is the only time they light up the city. It’s not necessary. So what I want her to do is to come down hard on the county officials, most especially the City Mayor and the development superintendent, because they are not working. I really want for her to come down hard on them. For us we don’t know what they are really doing in this county. They are not doing anything to satisfy us, that’s my opinion.” 
Martha Jimmy
“Oh, I happy for being in Buchanan. She is a president for women. I am so happy and also happy that she going back. I’m happy, what she did make me happy; for our roads from Monrovia to Buchanan and the college.” 
Glorious Jakpah
“Yes, the president is our mama. I’m happy for her to come, but the only thing that makes me vex is the people that taking care of us in this county. They are not fair to us, why should they see the oldma coming before they give us electricity, before they start cleaning the city; which means a mother leaving her children with somebody, trusting them to feed the children, leaving food and everything. But when she turns her back they give the children farina and when she’s coming back they cook good food for the children. So that is the only thing that makes me vex inside, but I always want for our mother to visit us every day.”



In Foya, Lofa County, police arrest eleven suspects in connection to Friday’s violent saga

By Stephen D. Kollie, 06460677
Following Friday’s mob violence in Foya, Lofa County which led to the death of a Sierra Leonean national, the Liberia National Police (LNP) in Lofa have confirmed to FrontPage Africa that at least 11 suspects have been arrested and are currently being held for their alleged role in the violent demonstration saga a fortnight ago.

Lofa County Police commander Anthony Weah told reporters that although the suspects have not been formally charged, they will be properly investigated and sent to court to justify their innocence.

He said mob violence is a crime under the laws of the Republic of Liberia and said violators will face the full weight of the law in a court of competent jurisdiction.
The Lofa County police commander assured Lofans that all will be done to ensure that stability of peace and security is sustained in the statutory district of Foya.
He urged citizens to go about their normal businesses as all efforts will be put in place to protect their lives and properties.
The Friday incident in Foya was in reaction to the mysterious death of a Foya central high school teacher, Stephen Falo Wondor, believed to be between the age of 30 – 35 yrs., whose body was found in a swamp with stabling marks on his side.
At about 8 a.m. on Friday, April 15, 2011, in statutory district of Foya, a crowd of mostly students and youths took to the streets of in protest to the death of their classroom teacher who was allegedly murdered by a Sierra Leonean national known as Augustine Mansary.

The angry mob allegedly killed the accused murderer and even took away his private parts. Residents alleged that the teacher and the Sierra Leonean national, believed to be in his earlier 30s got in a face fight late Thursday night  where the Sierra Leonean [said to be a palm wine taper of the Limba tribe], stabbed the teacher with a knife, leading to his instant death.
According to them, Mansary had earlier accused the teacher of having love affairs with his wife but the teacher persistently continued to deny the allegation.
 Ansumana Fayiah, an official of the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) in Foya, who come out to calm the students said the angry mob threw stones at residential and other public building while cariying out their demonstration and indicated that several business centers were vandalized while others were set ablaze.
He said the Police in Foya could not calm the situation but rather asked for the intervention of civil society leaders especially J.P.C. to help stop the violence by asking the violent crowd to put a halt to their actions  and make them understand that the mob violence is a crime punishable under the laws of the nation.
As the tension escalated, officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police and the UNMIL Jordanian contingent were dispatched on the scene but arrived when the students have gone to their various residences.
“My very self was thrown at and even some police officers were wounded while other places were set at fire. We were told by the police to talk to the students because they could not listen to them anymore and the police were not equipped at all,” Fayiah an official of the JPC in Foya told FPA.