Liberia: Whistleblower Exposes Alleged Massive Fraud, Corruption in Debt Department at Finance Ministry
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Monrovia – A whistleblower within the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) is recommending an overhaul of the Ministry’s Debt Management Department, claiming that department is sinking in financial improprieties, corruption and economic sabotage.
“The entire database at the Ministry is flawed. The system is already corrupt, if we use that database to pay out debts, the government would not be able to carry out its projects because a lot of money would be going in the pockets of some corrupt workers at the Ministry,” the whistleblower told FrontPageAfrica.
The fraud activities in that department are often carried out through wrongful payment methods that land thousands of both US and Liberian dollars in the pockets of the members of the grand cartel operating in the department.
In investigation into the syndicate was conducted in 2017 by a special investigative committee headed by former Justice Minister Fredrick Cherue.
The investigation by the eight-member committee was intended to establish allegations by the whistleblower that claimants were being shortchanged on their claims, leaving them to still have claims on government while the tampered with data base shows otherwise. Payments were also made to wrongful claimants, also some payments were fraudulently made in U.S. dollars in the same face value it should have been made in Liberian dollars – most of these payments were made to employees within the department, the whistleblower said.
Documents in possession of FrontPageAfrica shows that the investigative committee discovered that the department was using the fragmented method of payment against the advice of Mr. Bill Donovan of the United States Treasury Department who was in the country and recommended that the Ministry use the consolidated system of payment. His suggestion was approved by the government of Liberia.
“The Committee, while further reviewing the document or sets of data, observed that certain employees of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning continued to pay claimants through fragmented and consolidated in both USD and LD [Liberian dollars] in very high amounts in violation of the GOL approved method of domestic debt payment,” the investigative committee noted in their investigative report, a copy of which FPA has obtained.
A case study was conducted by the committee further established that some claimants have not received their payments, yet checks were issued in their favor and paid.
“I expect the Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean to have opened the case by now because it’s on his desk. If nothing is done to bring the perpetuators to justice, the cycle would continue in the ministry. This government has to take this issue seriously. I can’t advice this government to pay any debt from the current database, it’s already polluted,” the whistleblower lamented.
Through similar alleged fraudulent payment, US$300,000.00 was allegedly paid to wrong family for the purchase of the Nancy Doe Jorkpen Town Market.
“To the greatest disappointment of the other beneficiaries and heirs of the John Marshall Estate, Mr. Edmond Coleman, one of the administrators of the estate received more than US$300,000 and concealed the information from heirs and beneficiaries. Mr. Edmond Coleman has denied since being paid by Government. The family has since filed the necessary legal documentations with the Probate Court,” the investigative team explained in their June 19, 2017 report which is pending action by the Minister of Justice.
The report further noted, “… the committee has established that it is worth noting that this investigation has triggered several high risk indicators that worth national and international attention since it involves millions of United States Dollars that have been swindled by unscrupulous, unpatriotic individuals which may help to redeem, resuscitate and protect the Republic of Liberia.”
This is not the first time the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has been involved in alleged financial impropriety.
An audit report on the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) revealed that 24 borrowers who received cash loans amounting to US$965,400 from the private sector development loan program reneged to make repayment.
The report also outlined that an additional twelve (12) businesses received an amount of US$545,700, but none could be located anywhere in Liberia, and the telephone contacts of the individuals who owned these businesses were permanently switched off.
The loan, through the Private Sector Development Initiatives (PSDI), was meant to financially strengthen Liberian owned businesses, which were expected to repay, and the repayments would revolve or be disbursed to other Liberian businesses.
PSDI was a project established in 2014 at the MFDP to provide loans to Liberian owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). The process would have created jobs and accelerated the participation of Liberian owned businesses in the economy.