Monrovia – The Special Presidential Taskforce set up to investigate former and current government officials indicted for bribery in the Global Witness Report has amended its indictment.
This is the second indictment expected to be filed by the Special Presidential Task Force against the defendants who have been accused of allegedly receiving bribes to change the Public Procurement Concessions Commission (PPCC) Act to award concession agreements in favor of a British Company, Sable Mining, to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa County.
The first indictment filed by the task force against the defendants who are currently on bail was filed in May and November 2016 respectively.
Those named in the amended indictment are former House Speaker Alex Tyler, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman, former Deputy Lands Mines and Energy Minister E.C.B. Jones, and businessman, Christopher Onanuga.
Others also named are former boss of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Richard Tolbert; Andrew Groves and Klaus Piprek of Sable Mining; former Land & Mines Minister Eugene Shannon; former Minister of State Morris Saytumah, and Wille Belleh, former Chairman of the PPCC.
The Special Task Force Chief Prosecutor, Daku Mulbah in his motion filed to the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice on February 8, 2017 prayed the Court for count 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 of the May 24, 2016 indictment against the defendants to be amended.
“The criminal statute provides that the court shall permit an indictment or complaint to be amended at any stage of the proceeding to correct a formal defect,” said Cllr Mulbah.
Cllr. Mulbah stated that defendant Sherman encouraged and influenced Sable Mining to pay out money to public officials in the amount of about US$600,000 into accounts at the First International Bank, while during the period of 2010-2011 Sable Mining transferred to Sherman thru the Sherman & Sherman Law Firm the amount of US$440,000.00 as bribe to influence officials to change the PPCC Law of 2005.
Also in April 2010, US$200,000 was allegedly paid by Sable Mining to Sherman for the convention of the ruling Unity Party (UP) while US$50,000 was paid to Richard Tolbert former Chairman of NIC, US $50,000.00 paid to Morris Saytumah and US$50,000 paid to Klaus Pripek.
According to Mulbah in June 6, 2010 a payment of US$10,000 was paid to Willie Belleh, E.C.B. Jones got US$250,00, former Speaker Tyler demanded US$250,000 but was paid US$75,000.00 for the smooth passage of the PPCC Act.
Cllr. Mulbah continued that Andrew Groves was one of the principal master-minds of the entire scheme and businessman Christopher Onanuga consulted, advised and conspired with Sherman to induce government officials.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, movant (person filing motion to the court) prays your honor to grant movant’s motion to amend indictments and grant unto movant any and all relief equitable and just,” said Cllr. Mulbah’s motion.
However, lawyers for the defendant have acknowledged receipt of the motion and promised to file their resistance in the coming days.