Liberia: Senate Instructs Cancellation of Eton, Ebomaf Financing Agreements
MONROVIA – Plenary of the Liberian Senate has instructed the Ministries of Public Works, Justice and Finance to terminate or cancel two concession agreements that could in the future indebt Liberia to two foreign companies in the amount close to US$1 billion.
The Senate took the decision after debating a report from its Judiciary Committee which advised earlier that if the deal remains as it is it could lead Liberia into future financial obligation. According to the Committee, legal procedures and best practices were not followed in acquiring the deal.
The ETON deal is a US$536 million financing agreement for the construction of 505.3km of roads including the corridor from Grand Bassa County in Buchanan through Cestos City in Rivercess County to Greenville City in Sinoe County onward to Barclayville City in Grand Kru County – 316km road.
The ETON Financing Road Agreement will also cover Western Liberia counties including the Tubmanburg to Bopolu -52km road in Bomi and Garpolu Counties while the Medina and Robertsport-41.3km road in Bomi and Gbarpolu Counties.
The EBOMAF SA loan, according to the agreement, is expected to cover the pavement of 323.7 km roads including the Somalia Drive via Kesselley Boulevard to Sinkor in Monrovia -16km, Tappita to Zwedru in Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties and from Toe Town in Grand Gedeh County to Ivory Coast Border-10.2km road. It includes the 185km road from Zwedru in Grand Gedeh County to Greenville in Sinoe County.
The road construction also includes the corridor between Barclayville to Sasstown road-21km in Grand Kru County; while the Barclayville to Pleebo road-75km in Grand Kru and Maryland Counties will be constructed and paved.
Several red flags were raised in the media over the manner in which agreements were arranged. A FrontPageAfrica investigation uncovered that ETON, a private financing company had no record of lending, neither was there any record of its existence on the internet.
The Weah-led administration came under fire over the lack of transparency and proper vetting of Eton, which on paper presents itself as a Singapore-based financial company.
Investigation by FrontPageAfrica previously established that several weeks before the loan arrangement, Eton Finance Private Limited, on May 7, 2018, re-applied to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to be reinstated under the same name and Unique Entity Number, 200510984K, and re-naming the same shareholders and directors (Receipt Number ACRA180507174296).
EBOMAF is managed by Mr. Mahamadou Bonkoungou, the wealthy Burkinabe businessman who President Weah acknowledged as a friend who just happened to provide a private jet which he used for several travels after his inauguration. This was a gross violation of the National Code of Conduct.
However, despite all these red flags raised by the media, the Legislature speedily ratified the agreements without proper vetting and even encouraged the President to solicit more loans to foster his agenda.
At one point, President Weah labeled media entities and individuals who criticized the loan agreements as enemies of the state.
The nearly $1billion dollar loan was intended to be executed in 48 months after the signing of deal for the pavement of costal highways in Liberia.
In January, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Rules, Order and Administration, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence craved the indulgence of the Senate for the cancellation of the financing agreements between Eton Finance PTE Ltd, and the EBOMAF SA.
The Grand Bassa County ranking Senator noted in a communication to Senate plenary that such cancellation is for the safety and avoidance of embarrassment for the country and future governments.
“It is important to note that unless the two agreements are canceled, they stand to be legal and binding on Liberia,” she stated.
Since the ratification of the two loan agreements by the Legislature and approved by the President in June 2018, nearly 30 months ago, the senator said “Nothing has been heard of the commencement of any of the projects named supra, though Liberia has a commitment to repay loans in the periods specified in the two loan agreements.”
In 2020, Liberia’s finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah said the Eton and EBOMAF loan are presumed cancelled since the date for the disbursement of the money from the company has since expired.