Liberia: Legislature Backs Special Presidential Committee Report on NOCAL
Monrovia – The 54th Legislature has backed President George Manneh Weah in fully implementing the Special Presidential Committee’s report on the Global Witness’ corruption allegation against the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).
Report by Gerald C. [email protected]
The Legislature took the decision Tuesday, May 29 following a communication from President George M. Weah to both the Senate and House of Representatives informing them about the report.
In the communication, the President pledged to issue a formal position on the report after it has been reviewed by his Cabinet.
GW Revelation of Block-13
Global Witness (GW) on March 29 this year, released a report in which it called on the Government of Liberia to investigate officials involved in the Exxon Mobil’s US$120 million purchase of oil Block 13 in 2013 for corruption and wrongdoing and to ensure the independence of the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
Block 13 was originally awarded by NOCAL in 2005 to Liberian-Anglo Company Broadway Consolidated/Peppercoast (BCP). In 2007, the block was ratified by the Liberian legislature through what critics have described as “bribery.”
But Global Witness’ evidence shows that the company was likely part-owned by former Mining Minister Jonathan Mason and his deputy, Mulbah Willie (late). Mason and Willie are suspected of granting the oil block to a company in which they held interests while they were also ministers in 2005, which was illegal under Liberian law.
“Exxon knew that Block 13 was originally awarded through bribery and that its purchase of the oil block could enrich former officials, who might have been behind BCP. Undeterred by the corruption red flags, Exxon went ahead with the deal anyway,” GW said in a report.
The corruption-watch dog further said in its evidence that it structured the transaction in a way to skirt US anti-corruption laws by using a Canadian company – Canadian Overseas Petroleum Limited (COPL) – as a go-between to buy the block.
Immediately following GW’s revelation of Block-13 and recommendations, Presidential Weah set up a Special Presidential Committee headed by Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike to probe the allegations.
Others on the committee included Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull, Cllr. C. Alexander Zoe, Rev. Joseph Gardea Johnson, III, and Mrs. Frances Greeves as members.
The Committee’s Recommendations
The Committee called for an immediate detailed forensic audit of NOCAL before a new leadership is appointed to the corporation.
The Committee: “That immediate detailed forensic audit of NOCAL be commissioned and executed before a new leadership is appointed to the corporation. The said audit should not be limited to a simple accounting of the corporation’s finances but must also include of the stewardship of the leadership of NOCAL since its inception.”
The committee also recommended that officials including members of the board who were mentioned to have received monies in the form of bonuses/honoraria for signing the sale of Block-13 be made to restitute the amounts into government’s coffers.
The report reads, “Receipt of such payment be published in a recognized daily newspaper within 15 days from the date the report has been made a matter of public record. Failure to make said payment or restitution as recommended, they the members should be charged and prosecuted for receiving an unlawful reward under section 12.51 and 12.12 of the New Penal Law.”
The committee also advised that as a matter of law and public policy, members of the board of NOCAL who authorized the payment of half a million United States dollars and honorarium/bonus be made to restitute the amount. They are to make the restitution within 30 days after the report has been made a matter of public record.
Should they fail to make the restitution, they would be charged with misuse of public money under Chapter F of the New Penal Law.
The members of the NOCAL Board mentioned in the report, according to the Committee’s recommendation, should be barred from serving on any board of a public office.
List of Board Members include:
- 1. Hon. Robert Sirleaf Chairman
- 2. Hon. Fred Bass Golkeh Co-Chairman
- 3. Hon. Dr. Randolph A. K. W. McClain Secretary
- 4. Hon. Amara Konneh Member
- 5. Hon. Seward Cooper Member
- 6. Hon. Patrick Sendolo Member
- 7. Hon. Joseph Howe Member
- 8. Hon. Jacqueline Khoury Member
- 9. Hon. Idella Copper-Shannon Member
Amount to be restituted is US$136,560.05
Members of the HTC and amount to be restituted include:
- 1. Natty B. Davis US$35,000
- 2. Christiana Tah US$35,000
- 3. Amara Konneh US$35,000
- 4. Robert Sirleaf US$35,000
- 5. Patrick Sendolo US$35,000
- 6. Randolph A. McClain US$35,000
- 7. James Kollie US$35,000
- 8. Seward Cooper US$35,000
- 9. Susan Mapples US$15,000
- 10. Idella Cooper-Shannon US$15,000
- 11. Kou Dorlaie US$15,000
- 12. Jeff Wood US$15,000
- 13. Alpha Shah US$15,000
- 14. Anyaa Vohiri US$5,000
- 15. Varbah Gayflor US$5,000
Total amount to be paid is US$365,000
Meanwhile, the committee noted that the list of Board members was provided to the committee by an ex-employee of NOCAL; clarifying that the list is intended to include only member of the Board of Directors of NOCAL on April 27, 2013 when approval was granted for the payment of the over US$500,000 as bonuses/honorarium.
It added, “Any member of the Board of Directors, who is omitted in the list is intended to be included and is hereby included in the list;” while “any member of the Board of Directors, who was not a member of the board on April 2, 2013 but is listed is not intended to be listed and is accordingly removed from the list.”
Also, the Committee recommended that a law be made to prevent any statutory board member of any public corporation from receiving prerequisite, emolument or benefit, directly or indirectly on account of their service on the board or any other duty required of them by the government.