Monrovia - A frantic scramble to cover-up after fear of exposure over a reported US$2 million investment in a casino in the Central African Republic by a senior official in the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led government.
FrontPageAfrica has learnt that Mr. Sebastian Muah, Managing Director of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO) also a former Deputy Minister of Finance for Budget is part owner of the casino, according to sources connected with the transaction, and that the casino is located in a Five Star luxury hotel, the Ledger Plaza in Bangui, the Central African Republic while war between Christians and Muslims rages on.
FrontPageAfrica first got wind of the deal just over two months ago that a local lawyer representing the interests of a Lebanese national identified as Aboudi (formal name Abdallah Kobeissi), was sent court documents from Bangui to file a lawsuit against Mr Muah and two other business associates who had reportedly cheated Mr Kobeissi out of his shares in a Casino located in Bangui, a city in the Central African Republic (CAR), a land locked Central African country embroiled in war for over a decade and accused of religious “cleansing” of its Muslim citizens since 2013.
The source, upon reading the “Declaration De Modification” (Declaration of Modification) shared its contents with FrontPageAfrica after identifying the name of a Liberian government official, Sebastian Muah, listed as one of the shareholders and for whose benefit, as a new shareholder, the Declaration was registered on behalf of.
FrontPageAfrica also gathered that Mr Kobeissi had sued Mr Muah’s associates in Bangui but lost the case. However, according to sources, Mr. Kobeissi was reportedly advised by a court officer in CAR to sue his former associates in Liberia since all of the parties to the alleged crime resided in Liberia.
It was then that Mr Kobeissi sought the assistance of legal representation in Liberia, sending all of the relevant documentation in a bid to explore justice for his business grievances.
Mr Kobeissi, who claimed his wife and child were struggling in Liberia at the time, is said to be angry that his former associates, knowing his financial predicament, manipulated him and grossly undervalued his shares in order to buy low but sold the same shares almost immediately to Mr Muah for a whooping USD$250,000.00 in cash.
After purchasing the shares, our sources claim that Mr. Muah began pumping large amounts of money (cash only transactions) into the business. The casino, according to the manager FPA spoke with at the Ledger Hotel in CAR, is worth over US$2 Million and very well-funded “for a business with only a little customers”.
Shocked that a Liberian government official would make such a substantial investment in a war torn country and not into his own country’s struggling economy, the source became suspicious of Mr Muah and the source of his funds, immediately contacting FPA and asking that the paper conduct an independent investigation. According to the opinion of the local Liberian lawyer when he called FPA, “it looks like the man could be hiding money”. FPA immediately began asking questions and in a series of email exchanges between FrontPageAfrica and Mr Muah, the LIBTELCO boss at first vehemently denied knowledge of owning shares in or knowing anything about a casino in Bangui, Central African Republic (offering FPA a big media contract with LIBTELCO not to run the story). Mr. Muah even named the offer in his email as “Perhaps a better story for LIBTELCO”.
After being assured by friends and supporters that FPA had no supporting documentation to prove his connection to the casino in CAR, Mr. Muah began posturing. Boasting that he earns enough money to do with what he wants, going as far as calculating his salary during his years of government employment to justify the investment. Mr. Muah even highlighted that he didn’t eat his school fees and whatever he does passes his “smell test.
“Rodney: You off balance HUH? Get back in form chief cause I am not your normal politician O. Since I never are any school money I ever had I am as arrogant and convicted on whatever I do passes the smell rest.” – Sebastian Muah
The posturing and bragging shifted to anger after learning FPA did in fact have supporting documentation and began claiming that FPA was fabricating the story to extort him. Mr. Muah stated that he had informed the President and LACC about his dealings and asked that an investigation be opened on him.
“Kindly start an investigation on me. I have already informed the President and LACC so lets go for it.” – Sebastian Muah.
So that our readers have clarity on what transpired between FPA and the LIBTELCO boss, we are posting some of the pertinent exchanges in order:
From: Sebastian Muah
Date: 29 October 2016 at 10:04
Subject: Concerning Call from AMK
Let me be clear this is not true. I don't even have a home in Liberia my man. Also, what do I know about Central Africa to go take money I don't have to invest there.
Again, I can't even get a loan from LBDI to build right here in Liberia, because they say I need to have some structure in place to get a loan.
Other than what some think is my arrogance, I have maintained an impeccable record in this country as it relates to corruption and I intend to keep it that way, because I am certain that with ALL my education and experience, the one and only thing that can destroy a person is impinging their reputation.
I am interested in knowing what proof exists of this situation.
Thanks and best of luck on your studies.
Sebastian T. Muah
On Sat, Nov 5, 2016 at 2:12 PM, Rodney Sieh < wrote:
So Sebastian, you are sure that you do not have ten percent in the Casino in CAR right?
On 5 Nov 2016, at 10:30 AM, Sebastian Muah wrote:
No Chief, Seriously, I reached out and asked him the real story behind this claim. They are still trying to get it situated based on my discussion with B.
He can share with you information about this venture chief. My understanding is he knows you and it will give you full documentation on this so you see that I don't have any link to this claim. Again if I had any money there is no way I would put money in CAR where people fighting.
Like I said to this day I am in debt with Wells Fargo for money I borrowed from them over $50K. So if I'm toting money to risk I would first pay my debt and additionally pay off my mortgage.
On 5 Nov 2016 3:31 PM, "Rodney Sieh" wrote:
Ok ooo. Aaaaaa. Don't blame me.
From: Sebastian Muah
Date: 5 November 2016 at 15:51
Subject: Re: 10 Percent?
To: Rodney Sieh: Don't blame you on what Rodney? I am saying to you the truth. I do not have 10% stake in any casino investment. If I did there's no reason to not say so. People get stake in different organization or entities based on different reasons other than putting in MONEY.
So again the implications here is I took money to open casino or buy stake in casino. I am saying I don't have a stake in a casino. I would quicker get a stake in an IT business than a casino where I have no knowledge.
So the person whom according to you is very very very credible that actually have final word over what I own or don't own doesn't make sense to me.
This is my name we are talking about and you saying to me not to blame you? So what good does it do if you have documents then there wouldn't be this discussion or courtesy you have shown.
A documents is a document. But if you have speculations from a credible source, does it mean the speculations is credible?
Liberia doesn't rest until it seem everyone is scathed or blemished.
I worked the last 8 years in this place and have a record of telling my mind. telling my mind was what placed me at the core of Ebola news.
Date: 6 November 2016 at 13:52
Subject: Perhaps a Better Story for LibTelCo
LibTelCo is about to undergo a transformation and I will need strong partnerships with media institutions not only in terms of messaging but empowering and private sector development.
Case in point we expect to launch a cable television network January 1, 2016. This network will provide for 4-5 Liberian channels and content provider. Because our network is digital through cable it will allow subscription not only in Liberia but also abroad. I see that you have Frontpage TV, which fits into this model.
Additionally, we have fiber deployed now up to paynesville redlight, st. kizito, RLJ, Bong mines bridge, Old Road, Smythe Road, Matadi. This progress to provide cable TV and other services are what we should be focusing on in partnership and promotion through marketing efforts.
It would be great to develop this and carry out a successful launch in January. I have so far gotten interest from LNTV, Matrix Media, and BlueLinks for cable channels. Media companies would be responsible for their own content, share in the monthly subscription based on the viewing of their channel and they could generate on their channel their own ad revenue.
In my opinion there is a real story about LibTelCo progress and the opportunities we are creating.
My earnings and what I do or do not do with it is my personal choice. Although the current "whistle blowing" is totally false, I believe we do have an opportunity for you as one of the most visible media institution to support the upcoming marketing and media development efforts by LibTelCo as something worthwhile.
The False Bravado & Attempted setup When the “Media Engagement Contract” failed to illicit a response from the Editor, Mr Muah became desperate and sought the help of the FPA’s Business Manager to intervene on his behalf.
According to this paper’s Business Manager, Mr Muah explained his predicament and offered this “Media Engagement” as a means to foster goodwill.
When our Business Manager contacted the Editor of FPA, he instructed that no further conversations were to be had with Mr Muah, the “Media Engagement” was not and will never be a consideration by FPA and that once the investigation (documents, email exchanges and interviews) was concluded, the story (ies) would be PRINTED. The business manager stopped taking Mr Muah’s calls. Unable to reach FPA’s Editor or Business Manager, Mr Muah contacted a mutual friend he has with the Editor, who happens to be a lawyer and accused FPA of “fabricating a story for extortion purposes”. Mr Muah claimed that during the meeting with the paper’s Business Manager, a request was made to him for a sum of USD$100,000 to cover up the story and that he had a recording of the conversation.
The lawyer/friend asked the Editor if what Mr Muah was claiming regarding the request for USD$100,000 was true and if FPA would be willing to provide the background source of the casino story.
The Editor’s reply was clear, if Mr Muah has a recording, FPA would buy radio time on all of the stations in the Republic of Liberia for Mr Muah to play ALL OF THE RECORDING and not an edited version. To date, Mr Muah has not played his recording, but sent threatening emails (below) of “exposing FPA”.
The Editor, to prove the validity of the information, provided the background information to the mutual friend/lawyer who forwarded the information to Mr Muah.
Immediately after receiving the information from the friend/lawyer and believing that FPA had no supporting documents, the former Deputy Minister of Finance began ranting about how his original denial and then confession to owning shares was to bait FPA, and doing what he pleases with his GOL earnings and high credit score in America:
On 14 Nov 2016, at 1:07 PM, Sebastian Muah wrote:
Oh this is the Story? got rid of another person in their deal and now that's my problem. That's why I need to give you 100K. You gotta be out of your mind Rodney. You need to start working and earning your money like normal people do.
And yes I am as arrogant as they come. I have now gotten to the bottom of this story from this BS you trying to concoct. It IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
YOU AGAIN WILL NOT GET A DIME FROM ME.
Rodney go get a life. You again WILL NOT GET A BRASS COPPER FROM ME.
On 14 Nov 2016 6:43 PM, "Rodney Sieh" wrote:
I never asked you for a dime and do not want a dime from your ass. You are a government official in a poor country like Liberia whose name happens to be on a Shares document of another African country.
Where the f--k did u get the money from to put down? You are damn stupid Sebastian. I'm preparing my package for the President's office. Your ass is grass.
Oh so you cussing now? Haha haha you will not get a BRASS COPPER. Please send your package express mail.
This EXTORTION will end with me period. So your invoice that I am walking around with is for what work? Haha haha. The free money time over.
If you never understood where I came from now you do. I have my fuller package. This stuff really hurting your heart. I am not not only denying money requested but making fun out of you blind greed and stupidness.
On 14 Nov 2016 7:06 PM, "Rodney Sieh" wrote:
One more thing: Sebastian - Please note that this is my last communication with you on this matter but for edification, let me be clear on a few points of gross misrepresentation by you.
I have NEVER asked or demanded anything from you but the truth concerning this matter.... unfortunately, you chose to lie repeatedly. I have your emails to prove it - at one point you were desperately trying to "buy my silence" with a contract for media services. I NEVER responded.
You contacted Kadi(Business Manager), who you are accusing of extortion, and begged her to intervene with me on your behalf. You admitted the truth to Kadi and offered the same media contract to.
This "the press is trying to extort me" cry is common among the thieves and criminals like yourself who before exposure attempt to cry foul.
The press is here to ensure Liberians entrust their resources to men and women of moral fortitude - not common rouges who masquerade as the "people's champions ".
You suggested I earn money like normal people?
I own my own business Sebastian. I hire and train Liberians from my own sweat and give them a platform from which to grow and be self-sufficient. I strongly recommend you give yourself advice- stop stealing from the very people whose interest you were hired to protect.
Or man up and call yourself by your real name - common criminal
Oh I forgot one more thing. My.credit score is 786 O so I guess. I am not allowed to take debt in America. Rodney what your parlor score since everyone that rogue and thieves as you claim.
I am waiting the amount of ammo I have since you think you was going to get money. I have you a way out.By letting you know I could afford what you were claiming but no you thought I was bluffing too.
We inside you got website I got documents and didn't eat my school fees at Carnegie.Mellon.
But bottom line I put salt in your gari on this one admit it and go lick your wounds.
I know how much money was paid to you as golden handshake through blackmailing the national government.
Sh…t about to hit the fan. Did someone press chacklah?
Mr Muah claiming the “golden handshake” is FPA “blackmailing” the national government for money is sad and disingenuous.
Mr. Muah worked as a Deputy Minister in the Finance Ministry for many years but all of a sudden does not know the meaning of “golden handshake”.
A golden handshake in Liberia is when GOL (Finance Ministry) negotiates to pay a lower amount in exchange for immediate payment to a company than what the company’s invoice states.
It’s a dirty trick used by GoL.
A company submits its invoice for a legitimate and contractually agreed upon amount due for services and/or goods provided to GoL, but Finance will hold on to the invoice for months upon months – when the company is exhausted trying to get its money, the Ministry of Finance will then offer speedy payment but at a lower amount.
Currently GOL owes FPA and almost every other media institution in the country – we are ALL refusing to accept their “golden handshake”.
The fact that a former Deputy Minister is stating that the government of Liberia pays “blackmail” money to cover its misdeeds is frightening – given his former role at the Finance Ministry.
What has GoL been covering up?
How much of the Liberian peoples’ money did Mr. Muah and his colleagues pay for the misdeeds/cover ups of either themselves and/or others GOL officials?
Mr Muah knows the meaning of the term “golden handshake”, he also knows that NO ONE asked him for USD$100,000.
That amount is the value he placed on the “LIBTELCO media contract” in a desperate attempt to use the Liberian people’s money to cover his ill-gotten casino.
He kept repeating the “USD$100,000” during his meeting with this paper’s Business Manager – we ask AGAIN that he releases THE ENTIRE RECORDING, especially where he is admitting to ownership of the casino in Bangui.
The Cover up
Mr Muah is attempting to use a simplistic version of a tactic used by others who were caught betraying the public’s trust – pretend you were “joking or setting trap” then cry extortion.
The former Finance Deputy inserted his “claims” in his “private” communications, just in case his emails became “public”. He even asked FPA to print HIS emails to “balance” the story. We happily complied.
Mr Muah pointed out in one of his email rants that he has never gone to the Central African Republic, and nobody can PROVE that he has.
The Declaration De Modification does not require that he personally submit in CAR– the submission requires authorized representation - which was provided by the casino’s manager, Ms. Julia Gheorghe acting on behalf of the shareholders of which he is one of.
In one of his “private” conversations with “friends”, Mr. Muah allegedly laughed that so what if he invested $250,000 in the casino, “dah nah real monie” for anyone to talk about. In another conversation, it was alleged he said, nobody can “prove” he gave money or how much money he gave.
The source alleges that ALL of the transactions were given in cash. CASH for a casino valued at over USD$2Million.
Mr. Muah, as stated in his email, made sure everything passed his “smell test”.
FPA has sources all over Liberia, from restaurant employees who over hear unguarded conversations about secret deals and arrangements to shareholders of casinos in war torn countries arguing about “who invested what and how much more money each needs to add and who is not pulling their financial weight” all while believing the people serving them can’t hear or that they are stupid.
It would be interesting if one of the “partners” knew what the others thought of him during one of these unguarded conversations.
Liberia is a Country plagued with unprecedented corruption.
The corruption has affected our credibility as a Nation, it has affected our economy and it has affected our standard of living.
To the heartless few, the effect of corruption has great financial benefits and must continue, to many of us struggling every day to make ends meet – the effects are devastating.
The questions we should be asking Mr Muah are simple because we all can not only hear what is happening in our country but SEE the devastating effects from it on a daily basis.
Not only is our country and her people suffering from corruption but we suffer it from the worst types of corruptors, those who feel “Entitled to Corruption”, plague us.
Those “Entitled Corruptors” are some Public Servants who feel as if their “sacrifice” for Liberia entitles them to steal.
‘Successful Businessman’ Theory Debunked
As Mr Muah pointed out, “I was not suffering when I came to Liberia. I worked for the UN and led a major company before being asked to work in government”.
It’s a wonder why he would have a mortgage (as he stated in one email) in America where he “was not suffering” but while sacrificing in Liberia, be able to afford, according to sources, to invest substantial money in a casino? Wouldn’t it be the other way around?
In contrast, an investigation by FrontPageAfrica found that on Mr. Muah’s own published resume on linked-in , there is no mention of him being in the employ of the UN or a successful businessman. As a matter of fact, he was already in Liberia looking for work and Minister Konneh picked him up.
Liberia Telecommunication Corporation
July 2014 – Present (2 years 7 months)|Monrovia, Liberia
Deputy Minister of Finance for Budget
Government of Liberia
March 2012 – July 2014 (2 years 5 months)|Monrovia, Liberia
Deputy Minister Economic Policy
Government of Liberia
September 2008 – March 2012 (3 years 7 months)|Liberia
2007 – 2008 (1 year)|Monrovia, Liberia
Sr. Technologist II
2006 – 2006 (less than a year)|Greater Atlanta Area
Sr. Software Engineer
February 2005 – 2006 (1 year)|Greater Atlanta Area
2004 – 2005 (1 year)|Greater Atlanta Area
Application Development Manager
September 2000 – 2003 (3 years)|Greater Atlanta Area
September 1999 – September 2000 (1 year 1 month)|Greater Atlanta Area
Deloitte&Touche, DRT Systems International, LP
1998 – 1999 (1 year)|Houston, Texas Area
Miller Brewing Company
1996 – 1998 (2 years)|Albany, Georgia Area
A Call For Audit
If there are no improprieties at the institutions Mr Muah has worked in, arranging an audit of the Ministry of Finance and LIBTELCO from an internationally recognized accounting firm should be of no great consequence. We at FPA offer to pay for it. We invite John Morlu to head each audit.
We call on the President of the Republic of Liberia, every political party, civil society group and concerned citizen to join in the call for accountability of public funds. Enough is enough.
At Frontpage Africa, we dedicate this entire newspaper edition to exposing the Bangui Casino saga – we want the full truth surrounding the source of the funds.