Liberia: Sen. Sherman Laments Ruined Reputation after Economic Sanctions; Says He’s Innocent of the Allegations

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MONROVIA – Senator Varney Sherman has told journalists that the recent sanction placed on him by the U.S. government has devastated his character as a lawyer and it’s going to take him years to redeem his character.

Senator Sherman, in interview with reporters said, as a result of the sanction, he has lost most of his clients most of whom he has worked for since the establishment of his Sherman & Sherman Law Firm in the late ’80s.

“My reputation is devastated and it’s going to take me years to repair after I have provided evidence to remove my name from sanction. I believe that someone for some reason dropped my name at OFAC because of some reason and without OFAC reviewing, they placed my name on sanction list,” he lamented.

On Thursday, the Liberian Senate received from Senator Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County his response to the United States sanction.

According to him, it was intended to give his colleagues an explanation of his side of the story as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. “I saw it as an obligation to explain to them that the accusations are meritless. Most of my clients have been corporations who are either American-based or have relationship with America and because they don’t want to the violate the OFAC, they have terminated contracts with me,” he said.

When asked whether there are chances of him returning to the United States he said: “If I don’t go to America I will not die. I studied at Harvard, I could have stayed there, I didn’t. I came back home, I am satisfied with this country.”

The Senate leadership received and noted Senator Sherman response and promised to respond in three weeks due to its legal implications.

It is not clear what the Senate leadership’s decision would be, but there are speculations that he could be removed as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator Sherman who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of the statutory committees of the Senate, was placed on the sanction list on grounds that he facilitated bribery in the judiciary and that, in one instance, he allegedly bribed his colleagues “to support impeachment of a judge who has ruled against him.”

In a release, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it is “targeting corrupt actors and their networks across several countries in Africa and Asia. Today’s actions are taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse. 

“On International Anti-Corruption Day, Treasury remains fully committed to imposing costs on those who facilitate corruption at the expense of the people,” said Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich,” the release said. 

Senator Sherman, according to the U.S. Government, allegedly offered bribes to be set free from a bribery case he and some other top government officials in Liberia, including former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alex J. Tyler, were connected to.

“My reputation is devastated and it’s going to take me years to repair after I have provided evidence to remove my name from sanction. I believe that someone for some reason dropped my name at OFAC because of some reason and without OFAC reviewing, they placed my name on sanction list.”

– Sen. H. Varney Sherman, Grand Cape Mount County

Global Witness, a British corruption watchdog, in 2015, alleged that Sable Mining Company, through Cllr. Varney Sherman, the company’s legal representative, and his colleagues conspired to circumvent the law in order for the company to get a concession to mine the Wologisi Mountain in Lofa without going through a competitive bidding process.

“Varney Sherman, now a prominent lawyer, Liberian Senator, and chair of the Liberian Senate Judiciary Committee, offered bribes to multiple judges associated with his trial for 2010 bribery scheme, and he had an undisclosed conflict of interest with judge who ultimately returned a not guilty verdict in July 2019,” the release said.

“In the 2010 scheme that led to his trial, Sherman was hired by a British Mining company in an effort to obtain one of Liberia’s last mining assets, the Wologisi iron ore concession. Sherman advised the company that, in order to obtain the contract, they first had to get Liberia’s procurement and concession law changed by bribing senior officials,” the U.S. Government further noted.

It added: “In 2016, Sherman was indicted by the Liberian government, along to several government officials, for their involvement in the US$950,000 bribery scheme.”

The U.S. Government further took note that in 2019 the presiding judge acquitted all individuals accused of being involved in the bribery scheme.

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