Monrovia - Liberia continues to be rated as one of the court countries in the world as Transparency International and other international groupings continue to rank the post war country high amongst corrupt countries.
Investors have also persistently decried corrupt practices, accusing Liberian officials of soliciting tips before, during and after the processing of investment documents, even lawmakers stand accused of taking bribes to quickly ratify concession agreements, although many of those allegations are yet to be cogently authenticated. A frustrated investor has taken his disappointment over alleged corrupt practices by Liberian officials in a bold manner, documenting his ordeal through a book.
Entitled “corruption 101 the Liberian style” according to Len Lindstrom, the book contains key events, facts and laws pertaining to the case of Liberty vs. Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and Government of Liberia in the company’s fight for justice in the midst of gross corruption, extortion, economic sabotage, impunity, violation of Court Injunctions, bought-off lawyers, tampering with official Court Records, and repeated flagrant assault against the sanctity of the honorable Court of Liberia – all of which are extremely illegal actions.
Five years' frustration
Lindstrom said: “This highly documented book with over 300 pages of exhibits comes as a result of five long years of frustration and immense economic loss for Liberty, a Canadian mineral corporation with six subsidiary companies in Liberia commonly known as Liberty Gold and Diamond and/or the Liberty Group of Companies, which companies have been repeatedly cheated, manipulated, extorted and lied to by Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME) and Government of Liberia, and despite the fact that Liberty won a clear and decisive judgment in the Civil Law Court of Liberia on March 11 2011 – almost three years ago – wherein the honorable court adjudged that the actions of Lands, Mines and Energy were “ILLEGAL, IRREGULAR, IMPROPER AND UNLAWFUL” and ordered all Liberty mineral concessions and licenses reinstated and extended, nevertheless, almost three more years have passed with no appropriate response to the explicit orders of the court while the executives of Lands and Mines continued selling off Liberty licensed properties in direct and blatant violation of explicit court orders.”
Lindstrom says the action by the Ministry has led him to make the full dirty story of government corruption available to the public, including many instances of gross dishonesty, coercion, extortion and illegal dealings by officials at the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy.
Accordingto Lindstrom“it takes two to tango” which according to him means government corruption cannot flourish without having complicit dance partners in the form of unscrupulous international companies who are willing to pay huge bribes and/or offer substantial secret hidden shares in a company in order to violate the rules of fair and honest business, the book documents numerous companies who obviously arranged highly illegal transactions with the ministry officials in order to acquire choice mineral properties which both government and corporate officials knew were clearly and legally licensed to Liberty.
Amongst the companies that were illegally issued licenses as detailed in the book, which in effect made the licenses null and void, were Mano River Resources, aka Afferro Mining/Aureus Mining which company negotiated and received a totally illegal license from government over Liberty’s Putu Mountain property and later sold the entire project for (hundred and forty five million united states dollars (US$145,000,000 to Sevestral, with 10% of the proceeds going to a UK Liberian resident who was no doubt acting as the front man or “White Glove” to channel funds back to government officials who arranged and granted the illegal license, and it also includes Ascension Resources which is basically a “phantom company” operating as a front for multi-billion dollar gold producer IAM Gold Corporation.
The book documented that the company received a totally illegal license from government over Liberty’s Belefunai gold project, and also includes Australian based Planet Minerals operated and managed by several top executives from Mineral Deposits who after Liberty had traveled to Australia and promoted the project to their executives the company secretly came to Liberia and negotiated a completely illegal license over Liberty’s prized Putu CVI project and surrounding areas, without government even attempting to illegally terminate Liberty’s license, plus numerous other companies who were granted totally illegal licenses to Liberty properties.
“The depth of abject depravity in the business dealings at MLME is highly documented in the book as crooked government executives at MLME continued their deceitful agenda of granting numerous illegal licenses over Liberty licensed properties and projects even after the honorable Court had imposed a clear and highly prohibitive injunction against MLME and even after the Court had rendered solid judgment in Liberty’s favor and ruled that all the licenses and properties be returned to Liberty, but MLME executives in their insatiable greed and sense of impunity completely ignored the orders and rulings of the Court and continued with their clandestine secret operations of selling off Liberty properties as though they were a law unto themselves and could get away with “spitting in the face of justice”, the book added.
The Liberty groups CEO also stated in the book that in addition, during the court process, government officials attempted to bribe Liberty’s lawyer, then tried to bribe the honorable judge as well as Liberty’s General Manager, all to no avail but said, it now appears they were eventually able to buy off the company’s original lawyer as it has been discovered that critical transcripts were removed from the official Court Record on two separate occasions and that this unscrupulous lawyer who had eaten almost US$200,000 in legal fees had also made secretive, arbitrary and very damaging changes to the original Appellee’s Brief filed in Supreme Court which was obviously an overt attempt to undermine his client and to sabotage the entire Liberty case against Government of Liberia.
Lindstrom further disclosed that in one of many attempts to settle the matter in an amicable manner without causing greater embarrassment to Government of Liberia, he wrote an 18-page letter to Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in March 2012, which letter was followed by an official visit from the Canadian Ambassador at which time the Liberty case was brought up with the President in a very diplomatic manner, and one year later, in March 2013, the Canadian Government through the Minister of International Trade and Commerce wrote a very diplomatic and cordial letter to the current Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy in regards to the Liberty situation and the importance of a “predictable framework”and “environment in which Canadian companies can continue to invest in the Liberian resource sector with confidence,” with copies of the letter delivered to the Minister of Commerce and Industry, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs.
“To date there has been absolutely no corresponding action by Government of Liberia to any of these cordial attempts to bring the matter to its justifiable conclusion which unfortunately indicates that there appears to be little concern amongst government officials over the flagrant corrupt practices of the Ministry’s executives, nor any concern for the massive amount of damage done to Liberia’s reputation amongst the international community, nor any concern for the immense damages suffered by the Liberty companies and their hundreds of committed shareholders, nor the slightest bit of concern for the hundreds of Liberian employees and workers who lost their jobs with Liberty and now have no source of income and whose families are suffering immense deprivation while the corrupt government officials who were the culprits that exploited and destroyed the Liberty companies continue to enjoy their ill-gotten rewards with absolute impunity, he said”, the disappointed investor narrated.
He added that, the Corruption 101 book has already been distributed to numerous foreign government officials and ambassadors, various heads of international and humanitarian AID groups, as well as to several of Liberty’s lawyers in Canada, and to a number of major anti-corruption groups such as Global Witness, Transparency International, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as to several other major organizations and departments including the Toronto Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange, and also to the BC and Ontario Securities Commissions, both as a means of heightening awareness of the blatant illegal treatment Liberty has undergone and the inherent dangers of investing in Liberia, and as a means of protection for Len Lindstrom who over the course of the Liberty vs Ministry and Government of Liberia case has already had his life threatened on several occasions.
Lindstrom said: “Let it be clearly understood that it was never Len Lindstrom’s intention to have to take such an adversarial course of action, nor to openly expose by name all the individuals who repeatedly operated in a corrupt and conflict-of-interest manner, but after five years of attempting to resolve the matter through amiable and diplomatic processes as well as through the legal channel of court procedure, and after extending one olive branch after another, all of whichrelatively friendly effortsto date have been to no avail, has left Liberty with no choice except to finally bring the entire sordid mess out into the public domain and to expose by name all those who were known to be involved in the corrupt activities of intentionally decapitating the Liberty Group of Companies through a process of economic sabotage".
Lindstrom indicated that while the final outcome of the Liberty case has remained stalled in the Supreme Court for almost three years – simply because many believe it is extremely difficult for government to pronounce itself guilty – the entire matter should be of very grave concern to Government of Liberia as the highly documented exposure of such flagrant abuse of power and government-appointed positions serves as a clarion call to all international investors, organizations and foreign government bodies that Liberia has been, and unfortunately appears to remain, a very unsafe and dangerous country to invest in.”
The Liberty groups of companies chief executive said, despite the fact that Liberia is a beautiful country, with millions of warm hearted people, until the country adopts a sincere, transparent and determined mandate to deal with its blatant corruption problems which have unfortunately earned the country the ignoble title of “Most Corrupt Nation in the World” and until the government can honestly assure international investors that contracts, licenses and legal agreements made with Government of Liberia are inviolable and will be honored and the investors rights protected, the much needed international investment and support to develop the nation and improve the lifestyles of its people will be greatly restrained and the vast majority of precious Liberia people will remain in abject poverty.
He said, his company has invested almost twenty Million united states dollars (US$20,000,000) and faithfully and diligently work on all its licensed properties year round for four and half years to the point of making numerous highly potential mineral deposit discoveries, only to have all its licenses illegally terminated and then immediately sold off to the highest under-the-table brown paper envelope bidders in direct and flagrant violation of clear explicit Court Orders, the same thing can happen to any company that invests 200 million dollars or even 20 billion dollars.
“What is the difference when the name of the game is to keep reselling the same properties and licenses over and over to the next gullible international investor who thinks he can beat the system because he has good connections to someone in government – but the international community is not as stupid as some may think and the much toughened laws regarding ribery and Anti-corruption measures will either bring an end to such illicit corrupt practices or Liberia will find that despite its rich resources the international community will go to other regions where there is some meaningful security of tenure and future – and with the heightened awareness of the Liberty case the international community and numerous foreign governments are watching to see how Government of Liberia will settle the matter.”
The investor expressed hope that, in the midst of all the past shenanigans and failed promises, Liberty remains confident that the honorable Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia will do the right and the only justifiable thing by confirming the judgment of the Lower Court and that Liberty will subsequently receive all that is just, legal and equitable in damages.
When contacted the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy promised to comment on the allegation later because according to the Ministry, the Minister Patrick Sendolo was out of office but up to press time the Ministry is yet to comment.