Monrovia – International Bank Liberia Limited (IB Bank) staggered when it was subpoenaed to provide scanned copies of some particular checks issued by Sherman & Sherman Law Firm in April 2010.
The subpoena was issued by the court on the request of the prosecution in the Sable Mining bribery allegation which is presently before Criminal Court “C”.
On three occasions IB Bank was subpoenaed by the Court for the production of the checks but the bank’s Head Branch Manager, Edwin Kamanda, upon his final appearance at the court, informed the court that they’ve searched all their records at all their branches but could not locate the identical checks.
He said the checks may have been on CD Rom or disks that were damaged and could not be recovered.
He, however, informed the court that the bank is only required to keep such records for a period of five years.
He also disclosed during one of his appearances at the court that the original copies of checks were returned to Sherman & Sherman Law Firm.
Sherman, in his own testimony on March 24, said while it is true that the bank submitted statements and return checks in May for April 2010, such were only needed by the Sherman & Sherman Law Firm for the reconciliation of its debit entries to ensure that there were no discrepancies.
The seasoned lawyer who is also in the defendant’s dock was quizzed by Prosecutors whether he did issue check# 001743 in 2010 in the amount of US$50,000 (which was reported paid) to Richard Tolbert, a Co-Defendant in the trial.
Sherman in his response told the court that that he doesn’t recall his firm ever issuing to Co-Defendant Tolbert any check for any purpose.
“I can also confirm that we do not have return checks or statements for any month or period in 2010, they all been disposed of long ago,” he said.
“Return checks of April 2010 were either shredded or burned, when we had no need for them after verifications were made,” he added.
Bank Statements Corroborates Spread Sheets
The bribery trial hinges on spreadsheets and emails uncovered by the global watchdog, Global Witness in its report dubbed The Deceivers.
The report contained a spreadsheet believed to have been sent by Cllr. Sherman to Heine Van Niekerk, an executive of the Sable Mining via email.
It contained payments made by Sherman & Sherman Law Firm on behalf of Sable Mining as its legal representatives in Liberia.
Two weeks ago, the judge presiding over the case partially admitted into evidence the emails and spreadsheets that were highly opposed by the defendants who claimed they were illegally obtained through hacking and were tampered with.
The emails and spreadsheets were temporarily marked by the court and admitted into evidence on condition that Niekerk from whom it is believed to have originated comes to Liberia to testify to them in court.
Such ruling, has, however, been described as erroneous by the prosecution.
The prosecution in a motion to rescind argued: “Your Honor inadvertently ruled that Niekerk must appear before the Court on grounds of his sworn affidavit that he submitted to the prosecution emails and spreadsheets that were used by the investigators.
“Movant submits that there was no challenge as to whether or not Heine Van Niekerk executed the affidavit: the issue by the Objectors in argument was the non-availability of the apostil; for the Court to demand the appearance of Heine van Niekerk as a condition precedent to accepting the emails and spreadsheets as evidential materials, although identified and testified to by prosecution witnesses and marked by Court is an attempt to overlook the laws controlling markings and admissions of evidential materials. Movant prays that Your Honor must rescind that portion of your ruling.”
FrontPageAfrica has obtained copies of the Sherman’s statement of account from the International Bank of Liberia. A careful perusal of the document shows an un-doubtful corroboration with the spreadsheet leaked to the Global Witness.
The spreadsheet indicated that Sable Mining through Cllr. Sherman paid US$200,000 as political contribution to the Unity Party convention.
The account statement of Sherman & Sherman corroborates this wherein it is indicated on the statement that on April 22, 2010, there was an in-house transfer of US$200,000 on check# 001740.
The statement of Sable Mining’s Account with Sherman & Sherman indicated that on April 23, 2010, payment of US$50,000 was made to Richard Tolbert and Sherman & Sherman’s statement shows that US$50,000 was withdrawn from their account on the same date.
Said payment was paid through check #001743 – one of the very checks that could not be located by the bank when it was subpoenaed.
While on the witness box to defend issues surrounding the checks, Cllr. Sherman told the court under oath that he at no point in time ever gave Mr. Tolbert any money for any reason.
The spreadsheet further shows that US$50,000 was paid to Morris Saytumah on April 26, 2010 at which time he served as Minister of State for Legal and Economic Affairs.
The IB Bank statement shows clearly that on said date, a withdrawal of US$500,000 was withdrawn from the account via check#001746.
The spreadsheet shows that on August 25, 2010, a payment of US$75,000 was made for the facilitation of the Revised PPCC Act.
This payment is believed to have been made to Co-defendant J. Alex Tyler when he served as Speaker of the House.
It reflects on the statement of account check withdrawal, check#001792 in the amount of US$75,000 on August 25, 2010.
Pending Suit Against IB Bank
FrontPageAfrica has reliably learned that the Special Presidential Task Force is contemplating charging IB Bank with fraud, evidence tampering, obstruction of justice and money laundering.
It is not yet clear when they will proceed with the action but reliable sources close to the Taskforce have told this paper that the Taskforce is of the conviction that the bank’s failure to produce the scanned copies of the checks were on purpose.
Meanwhile, Judge Gbeisay is expected to rule on the Motion to Rescind Tuesday, April 4.