Head of Liberia’s Procurement Agency Resigns Over Global Witness Allegations
Monrovia – Mr. Willie Belleh, one of central figures of the Global Witness bribery saga in Liberia has resigned as Chairman of the board of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC).
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
In a statement from the commission released today, the procurement agency says it takes due notice of the ongoing investigation by the Special Task Force on the Global Witness allegations against some past and present officials of the Liberian Government including its Chairman Professor Belleh.
Sources tell FrontPageAfrica that Mr. Belleh’s resignation was at the urging of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
In its explosive report, GW reported that on June 2010, US$10,000 was paid to Belleh, who held a key position in the tender process for mineral concessions and helped review the procurement act. Belleh denied receiving any payment.
But Belleh in a lengthy response debunked the report, stating that as far as he is concerned, his conscience belongs to God.
The case against Mr. Belleh spurred from an email exchange between him and Cllr. Varney Sherman, former head of the ruling Unity Party and current Senator from Cape Mount County.
The report alleges that Mr. Belleh receive a bribe to create a loophole in the PPCC law; actually creating a loophole in the PPCC law.
The email to Cllr Sherman dated August 2010 stated: “We finally got the revised PPCC Act completed.
“But according to Mr. Belleh the email is a fabrication. “It is not true. I did not send any such email to Cllr. Sherman. On the face of it, it undermines its own credibility.”
Added Mr. Belleh: “First, the email suggests that I met with the President on the night of August 6, 2010 along with the then Minister of Justice. I submit that the then Minister of Justice and I never, ever met with the President on the draft law. “
Mr. Belleh says the language of the email is suspect.
“I usually do not refer to the Legislature as ‘National Legislature’ because this suggests that there are local legislatures in our political architecture.
“To the contrary, there is only one Legislature of the Republic of Liberia. Just as is in Britain where both Sable Mining and Global Witness come from, there is only one Parliament: There is no ‘National Parliament.”
Mr. Belleh went on to say that in January 2010, someone hacked into his yahoo email account and then several weeks ago, someone again hacked into the same account and sent out an urgent request for help from him to some people around the world stating that his wife was sick in a foreign country and he was requesting financial help, which he said was never true.
Global Witness also alleged that Prof. Belleh influenced the changing of the PPCC law in favour of Sable Mining to enable it to get a Wologizi concession without a tender process, an allegation Belleh categorically refuted.
Mr. Belleh told the Task Force: “When the process of amending the PPCC law commenced and, for much of its development, I was not the Chairman of the PPCC.”
Mr. Belleh also explained that by the end of 2008, the revision of the PPCC law was underway and noted that the 2008 PPCC Annual Report said two legal experts funded by the United States government through the International Business Initiative (IBI), were recruited to harmonize the Minerals and Mining Act (MMA) of Liberia and the Petroleum Laws of Liberia with the PPCC Act.
According to him, by the time he was appointed Chairman of the PPCC on April 5, 2010, the process of reviewing and amending the law was far advanced.
“With the assistance of the international experts, a substantive draft law, containing the provisions on mineral rights was already available and was being reviewed.
It is still unclear whether Mr. Belleh who is currently in the United States of America will return home to answer investigators concerns.
FrontPageAfrica reported Monday that the Special Presidential Task Force investigating and prosecuting individuals named in the GW report is contemplating seeking the intervention of FBI in the United States to arrest and deport Mr. Belleh to Liberia.
Mr. Belleh who formed part of the second batch of indictees was indicted along former minister of lands, mines & energy Eugene Shannon (Big Boy 1), former lands & mines minister for operations, E.C.B. Jones (Big Boy 2), and Morris Saytumah, former Minister of State for Legal and Economic Affairs.
The trio was indicted on indicted on December 28, 2016 by the Task Force. Shannon, Jones and Saytumah have appeared before the Court and filed their respective criminal appearance bonds.