Liberia: ‘Black Market at Foreign Ministry Closed’ — Says Min. Kemayah as The Ministry Introduces New Fee Regime
Monrovia – Liberia’s Foreign Minister Dee Maxwell Kemayah has disclosed the closure of the illegal collection of fees to exorbitant fees obtaindocuments including laissez-passers, apostilles/attestations and corporate jackets at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“We have closed the general black market that people used to use to collect fees that were not going in government coffers,” he said.
Minister Kemayah at a briefing last Thursday said it was being observed that payments for the services of obtaining laissez-passers, apostilles or attestations and corporate jackets were not going into government revenue but into individualaccounts.
The services were recently suspended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after it was realized that individuals were embezzling the funds generated by the ministry and diverting them to private use instead of government coffers.
“When we realized that it was another general black market established and being used by individuals to exploit the system, we immediately suspended the services for obtaining laissez-passers, apostilles or attestations and corporate jackets,” the minister averred.
It is against this backdrop that both the Ministry of Finance and Foreign Affairs have come up with joint Administrative Regulation concerning the Official Fee Structure for services being rendered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it relates to laissez-passers, apostilles/attestations and corporate jackets.
Under the new regulation the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will absolutely not receive any corporate document/payment/fee(s) for processing through any employee/staff/official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Foreign Minister Kemayan has warned employees of the ministry not to get involved in any process of obtaining diplomatic documents and urged the general public to follow the rightful procedures in obtaining their documents. “Do not use anybody at the Ministry by giving them money to get documents for you, not even me as the Minister;follow the rightful channel to get your papers,” the minister said.
According to the regulation, applicants must first prepare the Articles of Incorporation and print two copies of the Articles of Incorporation on legal papers and then proceed to the Liberia Business Registry (LBR) with the Articles of Incorporation for billing and payment of corporate and filing fees, and obtain the Government of Liberia/Liberia Revenue Authority (GOL/LRA) receipts.
The regulation also requires individuals to pay a stipulated fee of United States Five Dollars (US$5.00) and obtain a receipt for a Corporate Jacket at any Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Booth instead of the US$75 that was being charged during the black-market era.
The regulation requires that absolutely no document(s) will be finalized without the revenue receipts for corporate fees and corporate jackets(s), respectively.
Individuals are also required to prepare and submit an application addressed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the filing of the Articles of Incorporation and later follow up with the Corporate Office of the Department of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for finalization, and obtain the Duplicate copy of Articles of Incorporation.
Once all requirements are satisfied; documents will be processed within one to two working day(s). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reserves the right to verify any document from its source/applicant; and to reject any such document which the Ministry considers not genuine based on verification.
It is required that apostilles authenticate the seals and signatures of officials on public documents such as birth certificates, court orders, or any other document issued by a public authority so that they can be recognized in foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty to which the Republic of Liberia is a Party.
For countries not party to The Hague Convention, Authentication Letters are issued submitting a written and signed letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; requesting either the apostille or authentication letter.
The regulation further stipulate that the letter should state where the document is being used/sent, original(s) of document(s) requiring the apostille/authentication should be attached.
Also, documents from schools should be confirmed by the Ministry of Education for any level up to High School; and the Commission on Higher Education for tertiary institutions. Death and birth certificates should have attestations from the Bureau of Vital Statistics at the Ministry of Health.
Marriage, bachelor and spinster certificates should be attested to by the Center for National Documents and Records (CNDRA).Employment contracts should be attested to by the Ministry of Labor.
All other documents not mentioned specifically above; should be notarized; either by a recognized Notary Public or authenticated by the Ministry of Justice.
A review of the document(s) will be undertaken, and after clearance, a bill for payment of the fees will be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A processing fee of United States US$25.00 for each document is only to be paid at any booth of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), and original of the revenue receipt should be attached to each set of documents to be apostilled.
No request and/or payment/fee(s) for an Apostille shall be received on behalf of an applicant through an employee/staff/official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Absolutely no employee/staff/official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is allowed to encourage/engage into receiving any request and/or payment/fee(s) for an Apostille from anyone/institution for processing; as doing so constitutes a major violation of the procedures for obtaining an apostille from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; hence, subject to consequences for the applicant(s) and/or any such employee/staff/official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
No Apostille or Authentication Letter shall be processed if the letter of request fails to mention the purpose and destination.
All requests will be processed within one to two working day(s) after a review and satisfaction of all requirements.
The regulation notes that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reserves the right to verify any document from its source; and to reject any such document which the Ministry considers not genuine based on verification.