Liberia: Cllr. Fonati Koffa Backs Calls for A Fast Track Corruption Court for the Restitution of Over US$400M
Monrovia – Representative Fonati Koffa, Chair on the House’s Committee on Judiciary, has endorsed calls for the establishment of a fast-track corruption court.
Speaking Monday, July 15, during a hearing with Liberia’s Solicitor General (SG) Cllr. S. Cyrenius Cephus, on the work of the “Asset Investigative, Recovery and Restitution Team,” Cllr. Koffa indicated that the establishment of a Corruption Court, known as Criminal Court F will enable the Government of Liberia fight corruption.
Cllr. Cephus disclosed that the government has won only one corruption case over the past 10 years, which according to him speaks to the need for a corruption court.
During the hearing, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman noted that the Committee is in full support of the Solicitor General’s fight against corruption and at the same time called for the full involvement of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) in the working of the Asset Investigative, Recovery and Restitution Team.
He said when individuals in the Liberian society are indicted on issues bordering on corruption, they feel confident that they can walk into it and be free.
“It is only in our Judicial System, that you have an indicted criminal undergoing trial and that person is allowed to travel to the United States and that person is posting on social media” Cllr. Koffa expressed frustration.
He further added that the war against corruption can be won with a strong system, such as the corruption court that will set precedent that will serve as a deterrent.
In his opening comments, Solicitor General Cllr. Cyrenius Cephus mentioned his years of experience as a criminal lawyer and told the Committee that he has all it takes to fight corruption to the letter.
Cllr. Cephus went on to state that he is prepared to go after all individuals, who stole millions of dollars from the state’s treasury.
He made it cleared that the fight against corruption will be straightly on the basis of audit report, and not witch-hunt as perceived by some individuals.
Liberia’s SG at the same time disclosed that he has begun quietly distributing communications to persons of interest, noting that the first option the corruption fight will be restitutions, and failure to comply the next component will be prosecution.
Additionally, Cllr. Cephus averred that in the case of prosecution, the team will apply to the court to have assets seized.
“Indictees will be given the chance to choose between restitution and prosecution,” he noted.
“Honorable Committee, we need your support to help us in this fight, which is why we will soon be coming to you and knocking on your doors for an amount of US$2.1million as budget in this fight.”
Most importantly, the government’s legal representative disclosed that he chasing the amount of US$4.6 billion of stolen funds.
So far, he said 256 audit reports suggest an amount of US$400million of stolen funds.
In conclusion, the Solicitor General told the gathering that the work of the Assert Investigative, Recovery and Restitution Team will be straightly “confidential”.