Liberia: A Contender to Head The Former Ruling Unity Party Is Fighting to Save His Reputation As Government Files ‘Bogus’ Indictment
Monrovia – The indictment came just days after George Wisner expressed his intentions of contesting the upcoming elections for the leadership of the former ruling Unity Party.
Analysis By Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
The indictment filed by the Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia to the Criminal Court A at the Temple of Justice, charges Defendants, J. Nanborlor F. Singbeh, Sr., Secretary of the Honorable Liberian Senate, Gloria Caine, George W. Wisner, Former Executive Director, National Investment Commission(NIC), Othello Z.B. Karr, Incentive Officer National Investment Commission of Liberia, Prince A. Saysay, Barry Tequah, and others to be identified, with the crime of Economic Sabotage, Theft of Property and Criminal Conspiracy for allegedly defrauding a foreign investor in an investment of over US$7.6 million.
The indictment alleges that the defendants obtained faked and fraudulent “Investment Incentives” for duty free privileges; in spite of the fact that MHM Eko Liberia formed to engage in crushed rocks and related businesses with a capital investment of USD7,616.152; thereby creating the opportunity to defraud the Government of Liberia out of its much needed lawful revenue…”
According to prosecutors, a Liberian partner concealed information of the grant of incentive to his overseas partners thus defrauding the partner of millions. In the process, the indictment claims, the Liberian government lost 8,592 (eight thousand five hundred and ninety-two dollars) in revenue as a result of the misuse of incentives.
Mr. Wisner is being in particular is being indicted specifically for the government’s loss of US$8, 592 in revenue by awarding incentive certificate to the company.
The former Executive Director of the NIC is also indicted generally for criminal conspiracy to defraud the overseas investor of 5million for awarding incentive certificate which information was concealed by the Liberian partner.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica Thursday, Mr. Wisner expressed his frustration at the extreme the office of the Solicitor General Sayma Syrennius Cephus is willing to go to politicize the case. “The victory has already by won and I give glory to God. However, this is too convenient a way out,” said Wisner.
Mr. Wisner who has expressed his intention of contesting the party’s leadership, declared. “This gives too much comfort to the forces of evil. This doesn’t guarantee that they won’t go after the next perceived enemy in such a manner and fashion or even come after me again in the future when another election is around. I would rather go through the case, if there is one, and expose the naked injustice, dysfunctionality, dangerous motives, and undemocratic tendencies creeping once again in our body politics. These are the same vices of the past that led to our civil war. It must stop!”
“After careful reflection, and in consultation with my lawyers, I cannot trust the words of any officials of an institution that continues to with-hunt the opposition and those who disagrees with them. This gives too much comfort to the forces of evil. This doesn’t guarantee that they won’t go after the next perceived enemy in such a manner and fashion or even come after me again in the future when another election is around.”– George Wisner, Former Executive Director, National Investment Commission, Candidate for Chairmanship, Unity Party
Wisner’s lawyers contend that the SG’s office is off the mark.
According to the guidelines of the NIC, the procedure for the grant of Investment Incentive Certificate is as follows:
A) application is made to the Government through the NIC by interested business firm.
B) NIC does initial technical analysis of the request to determine whether it meets basic crateria as laid down in the Investment code and revenue law, Section 16 (B) (ii) including investment size of not less than 1millon, local content, employment of not less than 25 Liberians etc.
B) The forwards it’s findings and recommendation to the MoFD who conducts final review to insure incentive request is in conformity with revenue laws of Liberia and also in keeping with the national national development agenda and priority. The MoFDP then awards the Incentive Certificate under the signature of the Deputy Minister for Fiscal affairs and the Minister. A copy of the Certificate is sent to NIC for record.
For Wisner, the fact of the matter is that MHM EKO Liberia applied for incentive through the NIC. A blind technical assessment ( without prejudice) of the request by the relevant department of NIC found that the Company was legal entity having 70% foreign ownership and 30% Liberian ownership fulfilling and important local content requirement
Mr. Wisner says the size of investment was estimated at USD 7,616,153 ( seven million six hundred thousand one hundred and fifty-two and the proposed initial employment was 88 ( 82 Liberians and 6expatriats)
The former NIC ED further explained that the NIC having satisfied the above and other minor investment requirements, forwarded findings and recommendation for the application of the appropriate incentives under section 16 (B) (ii) of the revenue and incentive codes. He says the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning also conducted analysis on the revenue, fiscal and development side and awarded the company certificate.
While Wisner’s name is mentioned in the caption of the indictment, it is left out of the actual filing, apparently a rushed job by the SG to put the case through. Only the Management of Standard Logistics is mentioned in the summons.
Mr. Wisner insists he did nothing and is being wrongly targeted. “We shall demand to be served the indictment, if there is one, or let them enter a nolle prosequi, if they have no case against us, and apologize to the Liberian people. Our conscience are clear and faith in God unshaken. We can not be afraid to confront the antics of evil.”
Amid the many questions being raised, it is still unclear who is driving the case against Wisner.
Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean was forced to recuse himself from playing any role in the case because he represented one of the parties in the past while Solicitor General Cephus did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.