Aminata & Sons Accuses LACC of Falsifying Evidence
Monrovia – Acquitted of the allegation of economic sabotage and misapplication of entrusted property and criminal facilitation by the court last Thursday, CEO of Aminata & Sons, Inc. now accuses the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) of falsifying evidence against him.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson-Mbayo/ [email protected]
“It is unimaginable that an anti-graft company which is supposed to be seen credible will falsify evidence just to spoil one’s repetition. All I can say is that I don’t have confidence in the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission” – Siaka Toure, CEO – Aminata & Sons
In a press conference last Friday, Siaka Toure told reporters that the LACC had no evidence against him and that portions of the reports admitted into evidence by the LACC during the trial were fabricated – something he described as “unimaginable and frustrating”.
FrontPageAfrica could, however, not independently verify Toure’s allegation as all efforts to contact the LACC on the allegation proved futile.
The chairman of the LACC, Cllr. James Verdier is reportedly out of the country. His associates, including Cllr. Augustine Toe, could not be reached in person and via phone.
Toure was indicted in connection with the Japanese Oil Grant.
The government of Japan, during the period of 2011-2012, donated a consignment of oil valued up to US$13 million to the government of Liberia as part of its bilateral assistance to Liberia to assist the country in its reconstruction strive.
But the state said the oil products were reported to have been mismanaged by the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC), leaving government at a loss of over US$5 million under the management of T. Nelson Williams.
Williams, former Managing Director of LPRC, former Deputy LPRC Managing Director for Operations, Aaron Wheagar, former Commerce Minister Miatta Beysolow, and Ministry of Commerce Director for Price Analysis, Steve Flahn Paye and the Managing Director of the Aminata Gas Company Toure were indicted in connection to the mismanagement of the grant.
Toure in an interview said that the anti-graft body had no case against him on grounds that two reports presented to the court during the trial were doctored.
“The first report said we should pay US$16,000 which we did and the other report said we should be held for economic sabotage, which was unfair to a Liberian struggling company,” Toure said.
In a soft tone, he alleged that the LACC’s aimed was to damage his character and reputation and damage his business.
The Aminata and Sons CEO recalled several struggles that the company went during the indictment of criminal charges, adding that the economic viability of the company became vulnerable.
He said the LACC was anxious to prosecute and convict the company like they had personal issues with the entity.
“It’s good to have such institution that will fight corruption because it will help the country but those heading such institution must be committed and not be corrupt because the power given to them sometimes is counterproductive to their action performed,” he said.
Consulting with lawyers
Though he couldn’t confirm if a lawsuit will be filed against the anti-graft institution, he disclosed that he will consult with lawyers on the possibility of taking some legal actions against the LACC.
“We will make sure that this doesn’t happen to other Liberian entities so we will do all we can legally to stop the LACC from harming other Liberian companies. For us we are an innocent entity and they tried to prosecute us which was wrongfully done,” Mr. Toure said.
Toure told journalists that despite the indictment and the court proceeding, the company has strived to remain competitive on the petroleum market.
“It’s like war in the petroleum business and I’m glad that we are free of the charges.
Now we can say we are set to face our competitors to allow the Liberian people know that we are a humble and growing company that will be compared to other companies out of Liberia and the regions,” he averred.
Chairman of the Aminata’s board, Emmanuel Togba, also acknowledged that though the company was affected the case; it remains resilient and will not be deterred from expanding its operations in the country.
On Thursday of last week, Criminal Court “C” Judge Emery Paye said the court took notice of the MOU executed by LPRC and defendant Toure on August 30, 2011.
In his ruling, Judge Paye said, in the mind of the court, only contracting parties could enforce the rights and obligations of the contract.
“If defendant had breached any provision of the MOU, LPRC by and thru the Government is the only party that has the legal right and standing to sue defendant for such breach.
“The LACC, an agency established to fight corruption in Liberia, cannot arbitrarily set aside or ignore the MOU between LPRC and defendant and proceed to prosecute the defendant for any perceived breach. Accordingly, the prosecution has failed to establish the commission of the crimes as alleged in the indictment by the defendant, hence prosecution case crumbled.
“Wherefore in view of we have said above this court is of the considered opinion that the prosecution failed to prove the guilt of the defendant beyond reasonable doubt. It is therefore, adjudged that the defendant Aminata and sons Inc., by and thru its CEO Siaka Toure is not guilty of the crimes charged in the indictment.
“The defendant is hereby ordered discharged without day from further answering the charges levied against him in the indictment and to go without let harassment, or molestation on account of this identical matter excerpt other valid matter not in connection with this case,” Judge Emery Paye ruled.