Speaker Rejects Task Force - Agrees to Submit to Global Witness Probe

Speaker Rejects Task Force - Agrees to Submit to Global Witness Probe

Monrovia – Mr. Alex  Tyler (UP-Bomi), Speaker of the House of Representatives in Liberia says he is willing to make himself available to an investigation into the recent revelations detailing allegations of bribery as unraveled by the London-based watchdog group, Global Witness in a bid to safeguard the integrity of his office and the entire Legislative Branch of Government.

In a statement Monday, Speaker Tyler however alarmed that in order to lend credibility to the process, he is proposing that an independent panel outside of government, with representation of the Press Union of Liberia, Civil Society, Inter-Religious Council, Liberia National Bar Association and others be constituted, to launch an immediate inquest in to the alleged bribery scandal, to ascertain the veracity of the claims in the Global Witness Report. “I shall avail myself to any such body to safeguard the integrity of my office and that of the entire Legislative Branch of Government, “the Speaker said. Global Witness in its report, alleges that over $950,000 in bribes and other suspicious payments were made to top Liberian officials by the United Kingdom-based Sable Mining company and its Liberian lawyer, Varney Sherman. According to the report entitled – The Deceivers – Sable wanted to get the concession rights to Liberia’s Wologizi iron ore. Speaker Tyler is only the second person named in the report to address the matter since the report surfaced last week. Cllr. Sherman, who is also chairman of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s ruling Unity Party, allegedly told Sable Mining that in order to get the contract, the company must first offer bribes to senior officials to change Liberia’s concession laws. He has been making the media rounds, slamming the GW report as a “reckless disregard” for the truth. Sherman also said he and his law firm are prohibited by law and the Liberian constitution from divulging to anyone what they did for Sable Mining when they served as the company’s lawyers in Liberia in 2010. “Our code of professional ethics and the Liberian Constitution prohibits us from making any such disclosures and we will subscribe to those tenets even if we were to be taken to the gallows to be hanged,” Sherman said. Now Speaker Tyler has come out also to say that he did not receive any money as alleged in the report. In his statement, the Speaker writes: “Global Witness reports that: Edmonds and Grooves came to West Africa in 2010 hungry for Iron ore. When the country’s procurement law interfered with their plan, they set out to change it. The report goes on to quote Belleh, saying: We finally got the revised PPCC Act completed.” According to the report, Belleh wrote Sherman on the 6th of August 2010:

“The Minister of Justice and I met with the President last night and reviewed areas of concern to her, she approved”. “The document has been forwarded to the National Legislature. It is expected to be fast-tracked.” Speaker Tyler said GW’s allegations supposes that the president approved and orchestrated the change in the PPCC law to enable Sable Mining achieve its objectives. The Speaker also dismissed allegations that he received payments. “In the same report, a “leaked email” insinuates that I received US$75,000 to help change the law in favor of Sable Mining. This is untrue; I, at no time received any money from anybody, neither did I hold any discussions with anybody regarding Sable Mining.” Speaker Tyler said considering the gravity of the allegations and the potential to undermine Liberia’s governance structure, he is making himself available for investigation. “I am stating publicly my willingness to submit myself and fully cooperate with an independent investigation of the allegations raised by the Global Witness report. We call on “Big Boy 1” and Big Boy 2 to submit themselves to probe as well. Hence in order not to prejudice any potential investigation, I shall abstain making any further comment on the matter.” The Speaker however expressed his disapproval of the task force set up by the president. “I wish to state that I differ with and object to the appointment by Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, of a special prosecuting team headed by her Minister of State Without Portfolio, Cllr. Fonati Koffa. My rejection of the Koffa-led Special Prosecution team based on the following reasons: That the team lacks the authority to investigate the President and other elected officials; and

That a Special prosecutor who is a presidential appointee and functioning under the supervision of the President cannot be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation of these allegations.”

Full Text of Speaker Tyler’s Response to Global Witness Bribery Report On the 11th of May 2016, Global Witness released a publication in which it is alleged that the President and other senior officials of government including myself, aided a private mining company, Sable mining to acquire concession rights to the Wologizi mountain.

The publication further alleged that this was to be achieved by changing the Public Procurement Concessions Commission (PPCC) law to enable Sable Mining secure the Wologizi Mountain outside of a competitive bidding process. Global Witness reports that: Edmonds and Grooves came to West Africa in 2010 hungry for Iron ore. When the country’s procurement law interfered with their plan, they set out to change [email protected] The report goes on to quote Belleh, saying: We finally got the revised PPCC Act completed.” According to the report, Belleh wrote Sherman on the 6th of August 2010: “The Minister of Justice and I met with the President last night and reviewed areas of concern to her, she approved”. “The document has been forwarded to the National Legislature. It is expected to be fast-tracked.” This supposes that the president approved and orchestrated the change in the PPCC law to enable Sable Mining achieve its objectives. In the same report, a “leaked email” insinuates that I received US$75,000 to help change the law in favor of Sable Mining. This is untrue; I, at no time received any money from anybody, neither did I hold any discussions with anybody regarding Sable Mining. Considering the gravity of these allegations and their potential to undermine our governance structure, I am stating publicly my willingness to submit myself and fully cooperate with an independent investigation of the allegations raised by the Global Witness report. We call on “Big Boy 1” and Big Boy 2 to submit themselves to probe as well. Hence in order not to prejudice any potential investigation, I shall abstain making any further comment on the matter. However, I wish to state that I differ with and object to the appointment by Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, of a special prosecuting team headed by her Minister of State Without Portfolio, Cllr. Fonati Koffa. My rejection of the Koffa-led Special Prosecution team ins based on the following reasons: That the team lacks the authority to investigate the President and other elected officials; and

That a Special prosecutor who is a presidential appointee and functioning under the supervision of the President cannot be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation of these allegations. In order to lend credibility to the process, I wish to propose that an independent panel outside of government, with representation of the Press Union of Liberia, Civil Society, Inter-Religious Council, Liberia National Bar Association and others be constituted, to launch an immediate inquest in to the alleged bribery scandal, to ascertain the veracity of the claims in the Global Witness Report.

I shall avail myself to any such body to safeguard the integrity of my office and that of the entire Legislative Branch of Government. Hon. J. Alex Tyler, Sr.
Speaker, 53rd Legislature