Morris Saytumah Finally Appears Before Court With US$125K Bond
Monrovia – Morris Saytumah, former Minister of State for Finance, Economic and Legal Affairs one of the indictees in the Global witness saga has filed his criminal appearance in the amount of US$125,000.00.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson Mbayo, [email protected]
The criminal appearance bond was filed by the Omega Insurance Company who served as surety to Defendant Saytumah.
Morris Saytumah was indicted alongside former Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy, Eugene Shannon, former Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy for Operations, E.C.B. Jones and former Chairman of the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC), Willie Belleh for criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage, bribery, criminal facilitation, criminal solicitation by the Liberian Government.
The bond revealed that defendant Saytumah will appear before the first Judicial Circuit Criminal Court “C”, at any time as required by the court to answer to the charges and promised to remain under the jurisdiction of the court until duly discharged and if convicted of the charges, he will surrender himself unto the custody of the court to undergo the full sentence of the law.
It can be recalled the Global Witness alleged that on April 26, 2010, as Minister of State for Finance, and President Sirleaf’s Representative on Concession Negotiations; Saytumah received payment of US $50,000.00 to influence the change of the Revised PPC Act of 2005 and the tender process for mineral concessions in favor of Sable Mining Company.
Cllr. Saytumah responded to the allegation of Global Witness by saying he had never participated in any negotiations for concession in favor of Sable Mining and that at no point in time did he receive any money, directly or indirectly, from Sherman and Sherman, and Cllr. Varney Sherman.
He further stated that matters related to Sable Mining never came across his desk while he was Minister at the Ministry of State.
Cllr. Saytumah also told the Special Task Force that he was contacted by Global Witness via email on allegation that Cllr. Varney Sherman gave him US $50,000, and they were interested in knowing whether the amount was consulting fees.
According to him, he responded that he did not receive any money from Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman.
He further stated that the only time he represented the President on concession related discussions was on Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), not on mining.
Cllr. Saytumah said although he was aware of the process of revising the Procurement Laws of 2005, he did not think it was done to suit current and future interests of Sable Mining.
The case emanated from a report entitled “The Deceivers” published by Global Witness on May 11, 2016. Global Witness is an international NGO established in 1993 with offices in London and Washington.
The Report covers several countries in Africa including Liberia. As it relates to Liberia, the report alleged that Sable Mining Africa, Ltd. acquired stake in Delta Mining, which was operating in Liberia, and devised a scheme and system to bribe officials of the Government of Liberia to change the procurement laws in order for Sable Mining to obtain prized mineral concessions below market prices, principal of which is the Wologizi mountain range in Lofa, County, Liberia.
According to the 2009/2010 Annual Report, it acquired Delta Mining Company and inherited significant iron ore assets in West Africa including Liberia. Sable Mining Africa was delisted in 2016.
The issue of bribery payments in Liberia first came to light during an audit conducted by the company’s auditors, Baker & Tilly International.
At that point a report contained in a spreadsheet of alleged payments made to Liberian government officials were questioned by the auditors.
While the company has acknowledged receiving the spreadsheet from Cllr. Varney Sherman, it denied that the Board of Directors authorized or had any knowledge of the payments.
According to the company’s lawyers, the Liberian operations was handled solely by its country manager, Mr. Hiene Van Nierkerk and any monies sent to Cllr. Sherman was directed by Mr. Van Niekerk at his sole discretion. Sable Mining claimed that as a result of the audit, it had made changes to its financial controls.
The Report claimed that as consulting fees, US$75,000.00 was paid to Alex Tyler (the then Speaker of the House of Representatives); US$50,000.00 was paid to Richard Tolbert (the then Chairman of the National Investment Commission); US$50,000.00 was paid to Morris Saytumah (the then Minister of State for Finance, Economic and Legal Affairs); and US$10,000.00 to Willie Belleh (Chairman of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission).
It is not known if the bond filed by defendant Saytumah will be challenged by the state on its legality and sufficiency.