Liberia: Suspended Minister of State Calls for Investigation of Treasury Department Allegations Despite Calls for His Dismissal

0

MONROVIA – Suspended Minister of State for Presidential Affairs believes that allegations on which the U.S. Treasury Department based its conclusion to sanction him are vague, lack reality, and must therefore be investigated.

FrontPageAfrica has obtained an August 18, 2022 communication written by Nathaniel McGill to President Weah welcoming the suspension while asking for evidence to prove the litany of allegations.

Minister McGill, Solicitor General Sayma Syrennius Cephus, and the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA) were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department under the Global Magnitsky Act for public corruption.

President Weah has suspended the trio, but there are mounting public calls for dismissals instead.

FrontPageAfrica gathered U.S. Ambassador Michael McCarthy who announced the sanctions in a press conference last Monday and held discussions with President Weah over the weekend to express Washington’s displeasure with the light action taken against the sanctioned officials.

It, however, appears that President Weah is far from reaching the decision to dismiss the sanctioned officials, all of whom are his trusted allies. He is on record for saying that he cannot take any action against officials of his government who are accused of corruption until the allegations are proven in court.

While many believed that the suspension was instituted by the President to give the suspended officials the opportunity to resign, McGill’s letter to the President shows that the suspended Minister of State is prepared to go full length in challenging the Americans.

Below is the full content of his letter to the President:

18 August, 2022

Your Excellency:

I have the honor, most respectfully, to present my compliments and to congratulate you for Your Excellency’s exceptional statesmanship in steering the affairs of this nation in these trying times of our national existence.

Excellency, let me commend you for your unwavering determination to fight waste, abuse and the mismanagement of public resources which was a solemn pledge you made at Your Excellency’s inauguration, and for the swift and decisive action taken thus far,   in ordering my immediate suspension and others   named in the United States Treasury Department report for alleged corruption to face investigation.

Excellency, the United States Treasury Department report contains several criminal mischaracterizations of my person, name and character as  Your Excellency’s  Minister of State,    as in keeping with the   Executive Law of Liberia, and given that the allegations range from bribing business owners, receiving bribes from potential investors, and accepting kickbacks for steering contracts to companies, and  or manipulating or manipulated public procurement processes in order to award multi-million dollar contracts to companies in which  I have  ownership, including by abusing emergency procurement processes to rig contract bids, among others, I humbly welcome Your Excellency  pronouncement to set up   an investigative committee to probe into these grave allegations to afford me the opportunity to have my “day in court” as in keeping with the principle of due process. These allegations are crimes also under Liberian law and must be investigated consistent with law controlling. 

Excellency, please allow me to provide you brief analyses and clarifications   of some of the allegations: that I have been accused of:

  1.  Bribed business owners, received bribes from potential investors, and accepted kickbacks for steering contracts to companies in which he has an interest:

Response:  a. Bribed business owners— To what end, and for what purpose, and in in whose interest? One who bribes business owners must have an objective to achieve something in his own interest, but in this case, no interest is defined, and no reason is provided.

b. Receiving bribes from potential investors—What are the names of the investors? And who are the investors? I have at no time ever received bribes from any investors.

c. Kickbacks for steering contracts— I do not preside over contract negotiations, nor do I sign contracts, and so where will the kickbacks come from?

 Those who may have provided wrong information to the members of the Treasury Department investigators who were seeking to gather accurate and genuine allegations of corruption, abuse, waste and mismanagement of public funds in the fight against corruption unfortunately provided the wrong and false information. For full disclosure Mr. President, my only involvement with contract discussions is the current ongoing impasse between and amongst AML, HPX and the SOLWAY issue.

  • Manipulated public procurement processes in order to award multi-million dollar contracts to companies in which he has ownership, including by abusing emergency procurement processes to rig contract bids.

Response: Under this count, while I have not seen any evidence today, the multi-million dollar contract that I am aware of, since the ascendancy of this government is  the US$116millon dollars RIA Road Contract to East International. As you are aware Mr. President, this matter was presented to the cabinet in 2019 by then Public Works Minister, Mobutu Nyanpan that the RIA Road project would cost US$116M and that cabinet should approve the borrowing of said amount. It was then the decision of the cabinet that due to Liberia’s huge debt burden said amount was too huge for the government to borrow at the time. Therefore, the cabinet decision was that since Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government had granted East International a concession of US$56, 432Million (plus) agreement ratified by the legislature for the construction of feudal roads in Liberia before your ascendancy, said agreement should be presented to the legislature for amendment so that instead of borrowing US$116m, the government will now borrow US$56, 432Million (plus) for the RIA road project. My ownerships in East International as alleged is false and misleading  because East International was in existence around 2011 and granted road contracts under the Unity Party Government, one of which was the US59,567,010.9 Million  contract. I do not see how the Unity Party government would have granted a US59, 567,010.9 Million contract to a company with an ownership of the sitting chairman of the CDC. Also the Unity Party government granted the following contracts to East International prior to the ascendancy of the CDC lead administration.  Also, in January 2017 the Unity Party Government awarded East International was awarded US$19, 900, 005 million under the signature of Gyude Moore. The total contract granted East International by the Unity Party government is US$ 79,467,015.9 million.

Instead of accusing the Unity Party people of creating and owning East International, I am been accused as it owner.

  • Accused of involvement in a wide range of other corrupt schemes including soliciting bribes from government office seekers and misappropriating government assets for his personal gain.

Response: While these allegations are broad and require specificity, it is the fact of public records both in the media that criminal individuals have been using my name without my knowledge to get money from people seeking public office.

  • Used government funds allocated to other Liberian government institutions to run his own projects, made off-the-books payments in cash to senior government leaders, and organized warlords to threaten political rivals;

Response: Apart from asking public and private institutions to support the cause of poor and underprivileged Liberian high school students, I do not run private projects. For the records, all monies donated to public High School students are deposited in the school accounts for the specific counties to which I am not a signatory and counties that have benefited thus far are Bong, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Bassa. Unfortunately, we are yet to raise all of the monies that have been pledged to these counties for student projects.

  1. I would highly appreciate the senior government officials to come forth with the evidence. And since these are senior government officials, I would be glad to face them. In the case of politicians being attacked by some individuals I have no idea. I am a friend to all of the political leaders and none has personally complained to me about being attacked.
  2. Received an unjustified stipend from various Liberian government institutions and used his position to prevent his misappropriation from being discovered.

Response: Again, these allegations are broad, but for the records, I deny and reject them because I do not receive stipends from other government agencies as doing so would  greatly erode my  stature and authority as the ‘ Principal  Assistant to the President and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs. Because doing so I would be involved in corruption with them.

  •  Regularly distributes thousands of dollars in undocumented cash to other government officials for government and non-government activities;

Response: I hereby incorporate the averments of my response in count 5 and hereby deny and dismiss the allegations contain herein. However, when a friend or any Liberian citizen in need seeks assistance from me, it is a public information and a fact that individual coming to me for assistance, I always ask other private institutions and individuals to help.

  • Responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.
  • Response: These allegations are vague and indistinct. I need the specific details as to what is meant by misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery. I need full details on these allegations.  

As always, and as Your Excellency’s Principal Assistant”  and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, I want to recommit myself to the fight against corruption and your government’s open declaration to arrest and prosecute whoever is involved.

Assuring Your Excellency always to remain faithful to your progressive development agenda for our country and people, I remain.

Respectfully yours,

Nathaniel Farlo McGill

Minister of State (Suspended).

Comments
Loading...