Liberia: Govt Freezes Assets of Royal Gold CEO

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Monrovia – The government, through the Ministry of Justice and the Financial Intelligence Unit of Liberia, has secured a freezing order on accounts of the Chief Executive Officer at Royal Gold Trading Company INC. and his two Managers at 10 Liberian Banks.

According to a court document in the possession of FrontPageAfrica, the government sought the freezing order on the business and personal accounts, held by Royal Gold Trading Company INC., its CEO Sheikh Bassirou Kante, and managers Gabriel Itoka and Kpadeh T. Jackson within the banks for factual and legal reasons.

The banks include SIB Liberia Limited,

Guarantee Trust Bank Liberia Limited (GTBank),

United Bank for Africa (UBA), Eco-Bank, Access Bank,

International Bank (Liberia) Ltd., Liberian Bank for Development & Investment (LBDI), Afriland Bank and City Trust Bank, Global Bank.

The government noted that Royal Gold Trading Company INC., located in Sinkor, Montserrado County, was registered on November 9, 2021, to conduct post-harvest crop activities in Liberia.

According to the Ministry of Justice and the Financial Intelligence Unit, its preliminary investigation has established that Royal Gold Trading Company INC. is operating contrary to its purpose of establishment; and has been involved directly and or through its CEO in questionable activities,  from which suspicious funds are generated, structured, and deposited into its accounts and accounts of its CEO and managers.

At the same time, the petitioners (Ministry of Justice and the FIU) further averred that ROYAL’s CEO has been arrested in the United States of America (USA), on grounds of the alleged commission of wire fraud and money laundering connecting, the proceeds of the crimes of wire fraud and money laundering to a relative of Sheikh Bassirou Kante who has made questionable deposits into Royal’s accounts in Liberia.

The petitioners further noted that from its preliminary investigation, it has probable cause or reasons to believe, that the funds that are currently in the accounts of Royal Gold Trading Company INC., its CEO Sheikh Bassirou Kante and Managers Gabriel Itoka and Kpadeh T. Jackson are proceeds of crime which is a fit subject for a freeze by the Provisional Remedies Law of 2013   and the Money Laundering Act of 2012 of the Republic of Liberia.

They further argued in their petition that as a result of its preliminary investigation, it has established that a portion of the funds in the account of Royal Gold Trading Company INC., domiciled at the within named financial institutions, have been used to acquire real property, (lying and situated in Congo town).

According to them, the said property is a proceed of crime which is a fit subject for a freeze by the Provisional Remedies Law of 2013, and the Money Laundering Act of 2012.

The government further believes that Royal Gold Trading Company INC. is operating dubiously within Liberia and at the same time engaging in suspected management of proceeds of crimes and money laundering activities, therefore, its accounts and those of its CEO and managers are held with the within named financial institutions are also instrumentalities of the crime of money laundering.

Petitioners cited Section 7.122, Sub-section 1 of the Provisional Remedy Act of 2013, which provides the grounds For making an application for a Freezing Order.

According to Section 7.122, Sub-section 1 of the Provisional Remedy Act of 2013, (a) where specified property is believed to be proceeds or instrumentalities of a crime or terrorist property, the application shall be made by the Ministry of Justice or a competent authority under the law to the court for a property Freezing Order concerning such property to preserve the specified property where it is indicating the grounds for belief that the property is proceeds or instrumentalities of crime or terrorist property.

Furthermore, (b) says, the filing of such an application shall ipso facto give the Ministry of Justice or other competent authority under the law the right to require a financial institution to impose restrictions on the withdrawal of funds from an account for seven (7) days pending issuance of Freezing Order by the court which decision shall be made and delivered by the court within seven (7) days of the filing of the application.

They maintained that the freezing order is necessary to prevent the Respondents from accessing and or withdrawing those accounts, as doing so will undermine the current investigation and the fight against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorists Activities, which would be a blow to the integrity and credibility of the country’s financial system.

As a result, wants    an Order to Freeze all accounts in the name of Royal Gold Trading Company INC., its CEO Sheikh Bassirou Kante, and managers Gabriel Itoka and Kpadeh T. Jackson, held with the within named Banks/Financial Institutions.

They are also requesting that an Order mandating the within named Banks/Financial Institutions to submit all banking records of Royal Gold Trading Company INC., its CEO Sheikh Bassirou Kante, and managers Gabriel Itoka and Kpadeh T. Jackson the Respondent between the period January 2021 to April 30, 2022;

At the same time, the petitioners want an Order granting unto itself any further relief that may be deemed equitable, just, and legal.

Meanwhile, Civil Law Court “A” Judge J. Kennedy Peabody has ordered the Clerk of the court to issue or cause to be issued a Writ of Summons and place same in the hands of the Sheriff of the Court for service on the Respondents in the above-entitled cause of action.

Respondents have also been requested to file a formal appearance or answer and that upon their failure to appear or make their formal appearance, Judgment by default will be rendered against them as provided by law

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