Liberia: Investigation Reveals Eton Private Finance Provided ‘False’ Address on Registration Documents
Monrovia – A new investigation is revealing that from many indications, the Government of Liberia signed its first financing agreement of US$536 million with a dormant company that is only activated for financial maneuvers.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
The Legislature paid deaf ears to questions surrounding lack of sufficient information on Eton Private Finance with which the George Weah-led administration signed an agreement for over half a billion dollar loan for the construction of roads linking southeastern counties.
The agreement was signed in March this year in Hong Kong where the company is said be registered.
During the public hearing for the ratification of the agreement at the Senate, Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean attempted trashing the argument on why insufficient information the financing company available on the world wide web. “People say the people [Eton] don’t have website, the money will come through the web?” he asked sarcastically while giving reasons why it is safe for Liberia to secure the loan from Eton.
The opposition ANC political leader, Alexander Cummings, also expressed concerns over accountability and transparency of the government, stressing that though it is very important to build roads, the government hasn’t provided any detail on the cost of the roads it intends to build for which a billion dollar has been solicited.
“How do we know we have borrowed enough?” he asked.
He continued by questioning the legitimacy of the entity from which the US$536 million loan is being sought.
“There are some questions, a public knowledge about the entity, Eton. Is it a legitimate entity? Have they made loans before? Who are the shareholders of the entity? Are they reputable people? Where is the money going to come from? Where are they going to source it? I’m not saying it isn’t, I’m saying we don’t know. None of these were disclosed.”
Against all odds, the agreement was signed into law by President Weah a week ago paving the way for disbursement of funds.
The principal amount of the loan is said to be payable in 15 years by level payment at an interest rate of 1.46 percent per annum, with a seven-year interest and principal free grace period.
No Trace of Eton
While doubts lingers over the credibility of Eton Private Finance and its ability to raise the amount since there’s no performance record on them, a new investigation unveils that the company cannot be located at its address stated on its registration documents.
The investigations were with the aim of reaching a thorough understanding of the business history of Eton Finance Private Limited and its stakeholders, according to investigators.
Hong Kong government website shows that Eton on its registration form stated its address as 6/F, Fung Sang Trading Building, 54 Bonham Strand West, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong but investigators who spoke with two individuals at said address said the address was correct, but they were not aware of Eton Finance Private Limited.
The men—who were executives of a wholesale distributing company, Ultrasia Limited Uniwell (HK) Limited—told investigators that their company had been at the address mentioned for about 10 years.
The investigators continued its investigation by visiting another business establishment with a similar name: Eton Property Limited, at Eton Tower, 8 Hysan Ave, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. A representative of Eton Property Limited told investigators that Eton Finance Private Limited was not an affiliate of said company.
The team observed that both signatories to the Eton firm were residing outside Hong Kong. Sang-Hun Kwon’s on-record residential address is 301 46-I Daesagwan-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Metropolitan, Republic of Korea, while Mr. Shigesato Kono’s residential address is 11 Adelabu Street, Surulere Lagos, Nigeria.
A background check into the shareholders of the controversial private firm revealed that Mr. Shigesato Kono, a director of Eton Finance Private Limited, is a Japanese national, and Sang-Hun Kwon is a citizen of South Korea. Mr. Shigesato Kono’s background check also reveals that the 68-year-old Japanese citizen emigrated to the United States in the 1960s and settled in Sausalito, Ca.
In 1982, Shigesato Kono registered the Kono Sushi Company in the state of California under the legal form of Domestic Stock. The entity identification number is C1109973, and its registered address is 41 Marin Ave, Sausalito, 94965 CA.
A further inquiry into the background of Mr. Kono also revealed that on April 20, 1992, a federal tax lien of $47,398.00 was filed at the Marin County Court (rd) in California, on Mr. Kono’s property at 107 Caledonia St, Sausalito, CA 94965-1956. Additionally, several litigations were noted in Mr Kono’s past.
Meanwhile, there is limited information on Sang Hun Kwon online; therefore, no further information was provided.