MONROVIA – Believe it or not, J. Alex Tyler’s long absence from public domain was obviously because he lost all moral grounds to be honored with any public office after he was disgracefully impeached by his colleagues in the 53rd Legislature for several alleged acts of corruption.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
With his alleged involvement with a litany of cases popping up, he was nicknamed ‘Corruption King Kong’ after a February 2017 FrontPageAfrica publication that catalogued the high-profile corruption and bribery reports.
His removal as Speaker was supported by almost all lawmakers of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), an opposition political party, at the time. The CDC always took a strong stance against corruption during the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s regime.
During his Inaugural Address in January 2018, President Weah lifted the spirits of Liberians when he said, “Any person looking to cheat the Liberian people through the menace of corruption will have no place in my administration”. This statement could mean a lot and implemented in several ways, if in deed said with sincerity. It could mean, reviewing all reports alleging financial malpractices and ensuring prosecution; it could also mean ensuring that persons alleged to have looted the country’s coffers would not serve another public office until they are cleared from such allegations. These are actions that prove the real fight against corruption.
Liberia, the oldest Republic on the African continent, is undoubtedly one of the least developed countries in the world. This is not so because of the 14 years of bloody civil war, in fact, the war was triggered by decades of misrule, marginalization and corruption. However, current happenings in post-war Liberia suggest that no lesson has been learnt from the ugly past. Corruption still persist, misrule is the order of the day and marginalization still abounds.
Bringing Back the Corrupt
On Tuesday, President George Weah appointed Alex Tyler as Government’s Representative to Mittal Steel Company.
ArcelorMittal Liberia is one of the largest contributors to the economy through tax revenues, levies, import duties, permits, and royalties. The Company has shown itself to be a true partner investing US$1.7 billion since 2005 through its Mineral Development Agreement. The Government of Liberia has 15% ownership in ArcelorMittal Liberia and has the right to appoint 5 members to the 11member board of its operating company.
Blind Eye To Litany of Cases
Michael Allison’s Whistle
One of the greatest and glaring travesties of justice that should not erode the minds of Liberians – at least for those who care about justice – is the death of Cllr. Michael Allison and the investigation on circumstances surrounding his death.
Tyler was mentioned in Allison’s whistle blowing saga.
Allison was on the brink of exposing a well-calculated conspiracy by a web of government officials, mostly from the House, to defraud the entire nation of its much-needed cash attained from the sweats of poor taxpayers before he mysteriously died by drowning in the Atlantic Ocean.
Cllr. Allison blew the whistle that led to investigation by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, (LACC), and involving Tyler at which time he served as Speaker of the House.
As a NOCAL consultant, Cllr. Allison was expected to have received half of a US$25,000 consultancy fee from the nationwide legislative consultations regarding two draft oil bills, the NOCAL Act of 2013 and the Petroleum Act of 2013. Over US$900,000 was allocated for the Legislature to conduct said consultations.
Controversy surrounding the draft bills deepened when it was revealed that then Speaker Alex Tyler decided to pre-finance the project and made available a check in the amount of US$12,000, which pricked the interest of the LACC which later launched an investigation into his actions.
Cllr. Allison’s body was “discovered on the beach on 4th Street in Sinkor, Monrovia on Thursday, February 12, 2015, just few days after blowing the alarm on Tyler.
Without investigation into why his payment was bloated as a consultant, the case went down the drain following Allison’s death
Controversial Bong County Technical College
Tyler was named alongside Maryland County Representative Bhofal Chambers, former Representative Ketehkumuehn E. Murray along with a Chinese national as co-owners of the construction company that presumably won the contract for the construction of the Bong County Technical College – a project which began in 2010 and was expected to have been completed in 2011 but is still ongoing.
It was originally expected to be US$4,394,776.97 project, but the contract’s worth grew to US$7,604,926.97 and changing the completion date to May 2017 without any significant changes to the original design of the building.
According to the Internal Audit report, the contractor was awarded the project without any competitive bidding process, without compliance with the Public Procurement law or regulation, without being registered in the Ministry of Public Works’ database as a recognized, credible construction firm, and without being a properly registered business in Liberia.
Rep. Chambers (was not Speaker at the time) after an initial denial later admitted being a shareholder of the company though he said he wasn’t aware that the company was engaged in such a project.
But Tyler denied being a 7.5 percent shareholder. The Articles of Incorporation of the Liberia China United Investment Company shows his signature as one of the incorporators, yet he denied his involvement with the company.
The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission upon investigating the matter wrote in a press statement: “Allegation of “conflict of interest” and “Violation of the Constitution of Liberia” involving Ketterkumuehn E. Murray, J. Alex Tyler and Bhofal Chambers former and current law-makers in relation to their shares in the China United Investment Group; the investigation found these public officers in violation of Article 90, section A, B, & C of the Constitution of Liberia, as well as the National Code of Conduct, Section 1.3.6.
“The investigation recommended penalty as required in Part 15.1 of the Code of Conduct which includes dismissal, removal from office, reprimand; fines; demotion; seizure and forfeiture of the State of any property acquired from abuse of office and interdiction/suspension from duty with half pay”.
Interestingly, the trio were left out of the indictment prepared by the Grand Jurors of the 9th Judicial Circuit Court in Bong County.
Global Witness – Tyler’s Downfall
The Sable Mining bribery scandal was one that shook the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s regime. A lot of ‘big boys’ were involved, Tyler was one of them, too.
Chilling details which emanated from evidence presented to the court by the Special Presidential Task Force revealed that former Speaker Tyler threw himself into the alleged bribery syndicate by demanding US$250,000 from Sable Mining to effect changes in the Public Procurement Concession Commission Act to pave the way for Sable Mining’s attainment of the Wologisi Concession.
It all started when Piprek (the head of Sable Mining Liberia Ltd.) was looking for suitable premises for accommodation, helicopter landing facilities, and offices.
In July 2010, he (Piprek) came across a compound owned by Tyler but was rejected because it turned out to be very expensive.
However, on August 6, 2010, he (Piprek) got a call from Tyler for a dinner at Boulevard Café on 14th Street, Sinkor (now called Fuzion d’Afrique); during which he informed Tyler that they were not taking up the property.
Also, during the meeting, Tyler advised that he (Tyler) knew the importance of the Public Procurement Concession Commission Act changes to Sable Mining and that he (Tyler) could help Sable Mining get the changes quickly for an amount of US$250,000.00.
The rejection of Tyler’s property was based on discussion Piprek held with Sable Mining West Africa CEO, Heine Van Niekerk.
At the dinner, Piprek explained to Tyler that Van Niekerk sent him an email exchange between himself (Van Niekerk) and Cllr. Varney Sherman indicating clearly that the company should not entertain Tyler’s request and that Sherman would take care of the discussions with Tyler.
Investigation show that Sherman appeared irritated that Piprek was engaged in discussions with Tyler.
The evidence showed that Tyler – a man who was supposed to ensure that laws being passed were in the best interest of the Liberian people – was caught allegedly selling his country.
Part Owner of ‘Illegal’ Logging Company
Tyler’s name surfaced again a Global Witness Report on Liberia dubbed “Hold The Line”. He is named as part owner along with Moses Kollie, and Ricks Toweh (members of the 53rd Legislature) of a logging company which is, according to the Global Witness, among a group of illegal loggers that lied, cheated and stole from the Liberians through illegal logging activities.
“All of Liberia’s large logging contracts are fundamentally illegal, a fact that if not addressed immediately could undermine the important work being undertaken by the government and its partners to ensure Liberia’s forests do not again fuel conflict and corruption.
“Global Witness has collected evidence demonstrating that logging companies are illegally owned or controlled by politicians such as House of Representatives members Alex Tyler, Moses Kollie, and Ricks Toweh,” the Global Witness indicated.
Tyler did not make any comment on this report, though according to Global Witness, the logging company had earlier told the Liberia Extractive Industries Initiative (LEITI) that he was not a shareholder in the company.
The ‘Corrupt’ Prosecuting The ‘Corrupt’
Tyler who is currently on trial for his alleged involvement in the Sable Mining corruption saga has been enlisted by the same lawyers prosecuting him to testify in another corruption case – the one involving former officials of the Central Bank of Liberia.
The irony is that Tyler, too, is on trial in the same court on charges of Bribery, Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy, Facilitation and Solicitation.
The report was brought to light by the British non-governmental organization the Global Witness in its May 2016 Report released but former Speaker Tyler and the other former and current officials have since denied the charges.
Social Media Outburst
The news of Tyler being selected as state witness in the CBL case generated several condemnations from Liberians on social media. These are few comments posted under the news on FrontPageAfrica Facebook page:
Alecxion Donzo Heyyyyy Liberia wht kind of country is this naming criminal as one of the prosecution witness Hummm this country is finished
Jusufu M. Konneh Corruption King Kong Alex Tyler as
witness to a corruption case
Kassim K. Jabateh When The games get rough on favorites team, the referees give red card and corrupt the rest of the game just to claim trophies. Weah understand that strategy from the football field and is applying it at the presidential office. We will talk about it. Ain’t we refuse to listen. Sick!
Few Will Charlatans prosecuting charlatans. Bravo Liberia!
Khalifa Sheriff Alex Tyler can serve as prosecution witness because he was the speaker at the time when the first money was printed.
Victor Demanwu This Country is never serious for once…
Timothy Karblee Looter will testify against looters? The justice system in Liberia is creating too many Problems. The judges are jokers and corrupt.
Frances Mulbah When the blind leads the blind, you know what will happen. I am so sorry for my country.
Mulbah Willie How do I tell myself the dude is a Criminal, but will testify in another case as a Witness…
Augustine Jenekai Brown An indicted criminal that lacks credibility, just appointed by the president to a government post is a witness for the government against fellow indictees? Only in Liberia-this will be hilarious if the life of 4+million people wasn’t at stake.