Liberia: Fortescue Metals Did Not Sign MoU with Govt., Shiekh Dalmook Al Maktoum Did – Min. Nagbe Clarifies

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MONROVIA – Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe has clarified to FrontPageAfrica that the Government of Liberia signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the office of Sheikh Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of the United Arab Emirates royal family, and not Fortescue Metals Group as was reported by the Executive Mansion.

“The government signed an MOU with the Office of Sheikh Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of the royal family of Dubai. The Founder of Fortescue, Mr. Forest was present and expressed interest in doing business in Liberia,” Min. Nagbe replied to an FPA inquiry.

The latest update from the government’s chief spokesman runs contrary to earlier reports that the government has signed an MoU with Joint Corporation of Fortescue Metals Group and Al Maktoum Company.

The Executive Mansion’s July 15 press release stated that the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Juma Al Maktoum of Al Maktoum Company signed for the investors, while Liberia’s Mines and Energy Minister, Gesler E. Murray signed for the government.

It said the signing of the MOU was also part of a series of international engagements fostered by President George Weah in recent months.

“The government signed an MOU with the Office of Sheikh Dalmook Al Maktoum, a member of the royal family of Dubai. The Founder of Fortescue, Mr. Forest was present and expressed interest in doing business in Liberia.”

– Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism

The MoU with Sheikh Al Maktoum, a copy of which FrontPageAfrica has obtained, is aimed at upgrading existing railways and building new lines from the Guinean border to the Port of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County with no cost to the Government of Liberia. It is also aimed at giving Sheikh Al Maktoum opportunities to invest in Liberia’s mining sector, including the development of Putu mine.

Under the MoU, the Ministry of Lands and Mines would also provide administrative support to the investor in obtaining necessary approvals, permits, concessions, licenses, exemption (including but not limited to tax exemption) and provide underlying securities including bankable agreements for the investments committed by His Highness Al Maktoum.

The Executive Mansion press release had stated that Andrew Forrest, the company’s billionaire chairman, witnessed the signing ceremony and expressed delight for the smooth kickoff of the investment discussions between his party and the government.

“I am here to grow your economy. I am here to grow your social services and to grow the standard of living of the Liberian people,” the government quoted Forrest.

However, according to a statement from the iron ore company, talks with the Liberian Government were introductory and Perth-based Fortescue hasn’t entered into any specific commitments. “Fortescue is not a party to any agreement with the Liberian government,” said the Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines. 

“Fortescue is not a party to any agreement with the Liberian government,” she clarified, adding the producer also doesn’t have any base in the West African region.

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