Global Witness Report: Britain Ready To Cooperate With Liberia, Says PM Cameron
Monrovia – As the Government of Liberia continues the fight to collect pieces of evidence to be used in prosecuting individuals indicted for alleged involvement in an alleged bribery involving British Mining Company Sable and some current and past officials of government, the government has received boost with assurance from British prime Minister David Cameron that Britain will cooperate with investigation of any case of corruption.
Last week the Special Presidential Task Force prosecuting those indicted dispatched a team to the United Kingdom to gather more information that will aid the State in its ongoing prosecution and it seems the prosecution team has got a boost based on the reported assurance of Prime Minister Cameron.
According to the Executive Mansion, Prime Minister Cameron, has written President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in response to an earlier communication sent by the Liberian leader requesting the assistance of the UK Government in establishing the veracity and the ramifications of the claims contained in the Global Witness Report against Sable Mining, a London-based company.
President Sirleaf in her communication to Prime Minister Cameron, mentioned that a British company- Sable, was alleged to have apparently offered or given bribes to some Liberian officials, in the tune of USD $950,000.00 to affect the awarding of a mining concession and emphasized that the UK’s cooperation and collaboration in resolving the issue will go a long way in launching an effective partnership between the two countries in the monumental battle against the scourge of corruption.
She reminded the British Prime Minister that in a case such as the claims made in the Global Witness Report, both the giver and the recipient must face the same processes of interrogation, adding that this was the only way to bring to a halt the global endemic of corrupt practices that ensnare billions of the world’s people in abject poverty.
According to an Executive Mansion release, Prime Minister Cameron expressed gratitude to President Sirleaf for drawing his attention to the allegations made by Global Witness against Sable Mining and agreed that it is vital to work to defeat corruption at all levels.
He pointed out that he is proud that, since 2010, the UK Government has introduced some of the world’s toughest Anti-Corruption legislations, especially on bribery, adding that the Bribery Act of 2010 makes it a criminal offence for a company to fail to prevent a bribe being paid, regardless of where the crime occurred.
He acknowledged that President Sirleaf acted promptly in response to the Global Witness Report by establishing a Special Task Force to investigate the allegations and assured that the UK Government is fully committed to working with the Government of Liberia on the investigation. He informed President Sirleaf that he has asked the UK Ambassador to Liberia to discuss the allegations with relevant Liberian authorities in more detail and for information to be passed on to relevant UK Law Enforcement authorities for further investigation.
“Please be assured that the UK stands ready to cooperate with you to tackle corruption wherever it occurs”, Prime Minister Cameron concluded.
Global Witness in a report, the “Deceiver” indicated that Sable Mining allegedly paid about US$950,000 through the Sherman and Sherman Law Firm to several government officials including Speaker Alex Tyler, head of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission, Willie Belleh and others.
Many of those accused in the report of receiving the money have denied but the government has drawn an indictment against several charging them for allegedly committing multiple criminal offences including bribery, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation, criminal solicitation, economic sabotage, amongst others offences.
In the first indictment, those indicted were Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman, Speaker Tyler, ECB Jones and Christopher Onanuga.
While the first batch of indictees are facing trial with a request for subpoena to commercial banks to provide financial information belonging to these individuals still pending the Task Force drew a second indictment.
Sable Mining CEO, Andrew Groves along with former Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC), Richard Tolbert, another official of Sable Mining Klaus Piprek were indicted for money laundering, bribery, etc.
Groves responded by describing Liberia as a corrupt country where there is no justice.
In a statement issued, CEO Groves expressed that he was surprised to learn from media reports that a grand jury in Liberia appears to have indicted him on unspecified charges without having put any allegations to him and without having provided him with any evidence or with an opportunity to respond.
“It is difficult to see how, in a country with a deeply flawed justice system and an appalling record for corruption, a task force set up only 4 weeks ago can already have undertaken a thorough review of the allegations first raised by Global Witness and then perpetuated in the world’s press.
“To date, no evidence has been presented to support these allegations against Mr. Groves. During the period in question, Mr. Heine van Niekerk was the COO for Sable in West Africa and was given full responsibility to manage operations in Liberia”, stated Groves.
The assurance by Prime Minister Cameron about the cooperation of Great Britain with the corruption probe could prove to be a crucial moment in the ongoing prosecution. Britain’s influence in making Sable mining to provide the relevant information will be key.