Liberia: President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie Clarifies His Role in Various Deals at the Ministry of Lands & Mines
Monrovia – The President Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate, Prof. Albert T. Chie, has termed as falsehood and broad-day lies information aired on ‘The Costa Show’ and simultaneously reported in the FrontPageAfrica newspaper that he was involved in several acts of impropriety when he served as Assistant Minister of the then Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy more than ten years ago.
According to Senator Chie, the “lies” of his involvement in Block 13 are nothing “but envious fabrications under the framework of the Liberian Concept: ‘Pull Him Down: nothing is good for Liberians; if I can’t get, he should not get.’
“To set the record straight, I have made the following clarifications on the lies propagated on The Costa Show and published in the FrontPageAfrica newspaper.
“During its takeover of the block from Broadway/ Peppercoast, ExxonMobil conducted a due diligence to find out about the rumors of Liberian officials shareholding in Block LB 13. My name never came up from that investigation. The records are available at the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL).
“Secondly, Global Witness conducted an extensive investigation into the sale of Block 13, including alleged Liberian shareholders. Global Witness’ Report entitled: Catch Me If You Can,’ published in March 2018, discussed the Liberian shareholding, and the name of Albert Chie, was never mentioned because he was never a shareholder in the Block or in Broadway/Peppercoast.”
The Pro-Temp further claimed that based on the Global Witness Report, President Weah in 2018 set up a Presidential Committee to look into the findings of Global Witness. The Presidential Committee’s report found nothing about his involvement in the block.
Alleged Involvement in Liberty Gold Investment
Touching on his alleged involvement in the Liberty Gold Investment, he claimed that as Assistant Minister for Mineral Exploration and Research in 2005, he encouraged Mr. Len Lindstrom, the CEO of Liberty Gold to invest in exploration rather than in small-scale mining. According to him, as part of his responsibility, he provided the Canadian basic information about the mining sector, potential mineralized areas and mining laws and regulations.
In mid-2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration assigned him to the position of Assistant Minister for Energy before he left the Ministry in the first quarter of 2009.
“The events narrated by Mr. Lindstrom in his pamphlet occurred after 2006 when I was no more involved with mineral exploration and mining. More besides, those officials at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy who monitored the activities of Mr. Lendstrom indicated that the Canadian was involved in ‘419’ and ‘OPM (Other People’s Money)’ eating activities and could not meet up with his responsibility to the Government, which led to the problems he found himself in.”
Audits of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy
In further clarification Pro-Tempore Chie also said as evidence of his innocence there are many audit reports of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, from the Special Audit of the sale of the Buchanan ore stockpile by the Government of Liberia to other audits of the Ministry, covering the periods he was Assistant Minister. All these audits were conducted by the respected former Auditor General Mr. John Morlu and none of those audits found him culpable of any wrong- doing.
Recommendations of Old Pals to Positions at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy
On his role about appointments at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, he stated that some of the appointed positions at the Ministry were filled upon his recommendation to the President of Liberia, which is normal, for someone of his political status, training and experience in the mining sector.
He stressed, however, 90 percent of those he recommended are not his Kru tribesmen, but Liberian citizens from other counties, who are qualified and experienced in the mineral sector. He also stated that none of the current officials of the Ministry ever owned shares or worked for the geological consultancy firm Earthcons, which was owned by the Pro-temp and the late Mulbah Willie on a 50-50 basis.
According to the Pro-temp, his only relation at the Ministry is his younger sister, whom he said is a strong supporter of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), one of the three parties making the three-ruling collaborating political parties. He praised his sister for having a wealth of experience having served as Assistant Minister for Administration, with a good worth of administrative training and experience, having worked for the United Nations System and Save the Children, for over ten years.
Departure from the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy
Chie also said, contrary to the information propagated on The Costa Show and FrontPageAfrica newspaper, the present Minister, Gesler Murray, was not dismissed from the Ministry by President Sirleaf for corruption, but for upholding the Minerals and Mining Law of Liberia.
“He only read on the Executive Mansion website in February 2009 that he was relieved of his position as Assistant Minister for Energy without any stated reason and without a letter. Years later, ex-President Sirleaf would admit that her action was based on the ‘usual’ rumors,” according to him.
He said, when President Sirleaf took over the government in 2006, Mr. Gesler Murray was appointed to the position of Assistant Minister for Mineral Exploration, the position the Pro-Temp held for ten years. Mr. Chie was transferred to the Department of Energy and appointed as Assistant Minister of Energy. Before Mrs. Sirleaf became President, AmLib United Minerals had a concession over Kokoya in Bong County (sold to MNG Gold later) and mineral exploration properties in Klekle (Montserrado County), Cestos Area in Rivercess County and Menyea in Grand Gedeh County.
When she became President in 2006, her brother, Mr. Carney Johnson, no doubt a well-trained and experienced mining engineer, was hired by AmLib as a consultant. According to him, the foreign owners of the company decided to “misuse” that connection and applied to the Ministry for all of their exploration licenses in different counties to be merged into one concession agreement (MDA). He stated that that was in contravention of the Minerals and Mining Law, which states that each exploration license must be converted into its own concession (MDA).
“Thus AmLib should have applied for three additional concessions instead of merging all the exploration licenses into one MDA. As Assistant Minister for Mineral Exploration, Minister Gesler Murray refused to violate the Mining Law and thus rejected the application; the Pro-Temp, Minister Murray’s predecessor, supported him.
Using their connection to the President (having hired her brother Mr. Carney Johnson), the owners of AmLib allegedly carried lies to her that he Chie and Murray wanted to give their properties to Earthcons. The two Assistant Ministers were never called in by the President to defend why AmLib’s application was rejected, but were immediately relieved of their positions in 2009, in a “poor no friend” manner.
According to Pro-Temp Chie, once he and Minister Murray were out of the way, AmLib was successful in violating the Minerals and Mining Law and got all their exploration licenses scattered all over the country to be merged into a single concession agreement in 2010, thus causing loss to the Government in revenue and undeveloped mineralized areas.