Liberia: ‘Rodney Sieh Will Go to Jail’ – Minister of State Threatens FrontPageAfrica’s Publisher
MONROVIA – Counting days to the historic launch of his book – Journalist On Trial – which details the trial that led to his 5000-year sentence and chronicles years of misrule, corruption and nepotism that landed Liberia in a decade and half of civil war, Rodney D. Sieh risks another lawsuit after exposing another landmark alleged corruption in the new and young George Weah-led Government.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
In the Monday, December 17, 2018 edition of the FrontPage Africa, Mr. Sieh revealed multiple layers of corruption, fiscal mismanagement, kickbacks and waste resulting in millions of dollars in losses from the Liberian government coffers in just the first year of Coalition for Democratic Change government.
The investigative report exposed vouchers and memos detailing exorbitant payments toward travel, made-up companies and firms tied to the presidency for road and construction contracts including the National Security Agency, Executive Protection Agency and the never-ending renovation of the seat of the Liberian presidency, the Executive Mansion.
Nearly all of the payment vouchers in FPA’s possession originates from instruction from the Ministry of State headed by Minister Nathaniel McGill, to the Ministry of Finance.
The trail of vouchers appears to be continuing that trend with virtually all payments going through the president’s office.
One of the first actions taken by President Weah after his inauguration, was a directive to all autonomous agencies and public corporations of the Government to authorize and expend a cumulative amount of not more than USD $3,000 for operational expenses. “Any amount above the US$3,000 threshold must seek approval from the Office of the President,” instructed the directive.
In one of those documents being released by FrontPageAfrica, Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Mr. Samuel Tweah approved a payment of US$182,000.00(One Hundred Eighty-Two Thousand United States Dollars) to a purported US-based construction company which, FPA probe has found, has been inactive since 2003 when the country had just emerged from civil war and led by Charles Taylor.
In the memo approving the payment to Rocktown Tool & Equipment Corporation of New York, USA, dated September 24, 2018, the minister wrote:
“I have the honor most respectfully to present my compliments and wish to inform you that the Department of Economic Management is requesting an allotment through the Debt Management Unit, in the amount of US$182,000.00(One Hundred Eighty Two Thousand United States Dollars representing payments in favor of Rock Town Tools & Equipment Corporation of New York, USA as a result of Court Orders for debt owed them by the Ministry of State for the supply of the following: Executive Mansion Tower Light, 80,000.00; Suburban Vehicle, US$14,000.00; Public Works 125KVA Generator, US$33,000.00; Gillette Generator 225 KVA, 84,000.00; Whisper Watt, 150 KVA, 55,000.00, 2.6” Trash Pump @17,000.00, US$34,000.00 and filing of complaint, US$200,00.”
FPA has uncovered that the company was registered in August 1999, at New York’s KINGS County with company number 2406154 and located at the address 576 Third Avenue Brooklyn, New York, 11215.
Today, the company is unlisted and does not exist. Its only mention is that it has been inactive – dissolution by proclamation / annulment of authority since June 25, 2003.
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, being out of the country called the Truth FM Breakfast Show on Monday from Accra, Ghana claiming innocence, but at the same time branding the FrontPageAfrica as a “criminal entity”.
According to him, he will sue FrontPageAfrica and Rodney Sieh to prove his innocence.
McGill: “When government ensures charges against journalists and newspapers, it’s so much in the press, but I think we have to go to court for the press people to begin to justify some of these allegations. I think Rodney Sieh, the press and the FrontPage Africa is a criminal entity bent on tarnishing the good reputation of people.”
“I am not going to comment too much; what I am going to now I am going to get my lawyer involved and other people to file a lawsuit against the FrontPage Africa and if it is proven that I motorized the payment, I’m going to resign from the government but if it is not proven, Rodney Sieh will go to jail because I will not allow people to tarnish my reputation. I work for my reputation.”
“Rodney Sieh and his criminals will not destroy my image. This is a criminal attempt by Mr. Sieh and his gang of criminals who want to destroy the good image of individuals. I will not allow that. I am coming back to Monrovia, I will get to my lawyer. My lawyer will deal with the situation because I cannot bear it any longer. Every day people will get up and just say things about tarnishing their friends. Once you say somebody is involved in corruption, it’s everybody concern.”
According to McGill, he has no knowledge of the company in question, noting that President Weah would not allow such payment to an individual company without investigating the company.
He claimed that the Ministry of Finance is a credible institution and would not get involved with such payment.
“We don’t already have money and the President is saying let’s do roads, then we get up and try to pay people US$180,000? I don’t know the company the man is talking about and I have not even given instruction to the Ministry of Finance. The Minister of Finance is a very credible gentleman that I know and he will not take instruction from me to pay company that does not provide a clean record of debt from the Taylor’s era,” he said.
McGill-Finance Ministry Contradiction
While the Minister of State is claiming no knowledge of the company and the payment, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in a press conference on Monday admitted that the payment to Rocktown Tool & Equipment Corporation is still being processed through the internal system at the ministry.
According to the Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Mr. Augustine Flomo, contrary to an expert opinion that the current government should have taken an appeal to the Supreme Court before processing payment, the Weah-led administration could not have taken an appeal on a case that was adjudicated during the previous government.
“To have made it appear that the current government is not responsible and didn’t take the necessary due diligence in effecting the payment process is not only prosperous but it’s malicious as the government is continuity,” he said. He added that because government is continuity, the Weah-led administration is under obligation to honor legitimate debts “once she has the financial capacity to do so as such would not only improve the individual businesses but also improve the well-being of the economy.”
He said “it may true that Rocktown claim may have been rejected by KPMG” as published by FrontPageAfrica but the Rocktown being dissatisfied took the matter to the court and obtained a court judgment in its favor “as such this government is under legal obligation to respect all courts in the Republic of Liberia including this ruling from the Commercial Court of the Republic of Liberia.”