MONROVIA – Sheikh Bassirou Kante, the Liberian businessman, and philanthropist held in the United States for money laundering, has reportedly reached a plea bargain agreement with U.S. authorities wherein he would name Liberian officials who aided him in his clandestine deals.
By Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Popularly known in Liberia as ‘Royal Gold’, Kante was arrested in Maryland, USA, on April 20, 2022, for his alleged involvement in wire fraud amounting to over US$7 million.
He was picked up from his Maryland home a few hours before his scheduled departure from Dulles International Airport in Washington to the United Arab Emirates on a one-way ticket.
Upon his arrest at the time, Kante could not secure bail from the court as the U.S. court contended by the preponderance of the evidence that no condition or combination of release conditions could reasonably assure his appearance in court as required.
In a written Order, Judge Timothy J. Sullivan found that the weight of the evidence against Bassirou was strong and that he was subject to a lengthy period of incarceration if convicted. He is also subject to removal from the United States through deportation after serving his full term if convicted.
The Judge at the same time emphasized that Bassirou, alias Royal Gold, possessed multiple passports from various countries as well as fraudulent identification documents. He had unexplained assets and sources of large amounts of money and had close ties to government governments – particularly, the government of Liberia.
“The Defendant’s ties to Liberia, moreover, are especially deep. The email search warrant production revealed that the Defendant has a close personal relationship with the Vice President of Liberia. Moreover, during the execution of the search warrant at the Defendant’s residence on April 20, 2022, agents discovered that the Defendant was in possession of a Diplomatic Liberian passport. That the Defendant, who occupies no formal diplomatic position within the Liberian government (a fact the Defendant admitted at the detention hearing), was nonetheless in possession of a Diplomatic Liberian passport is powerful evidence of the strength of the Defendant’s connections to the highest levels of the Liberian government. The Defendant is, after all, a citizen of Liberia, not the United States. A connection like this, therefore, only enhances the Defendant’s already elevated risk of nonappearance,” Judge Sullivan noted at the time.
Plea Bargain Secures Release from Prison
However, FrontPageAfrica has learned from reliable sources from the United States that Kante has reached several arrangements with the U.S. Court that has led to a reduced sentence and no jail time.
As per the agreement reached with Kante’s lawyers, he will turn over his bank account in Dubai which has some US$4 million to pay back the money stolen.
He has also reportedly agreed to turn over all bank account information including his GT bank account in Liberia to pay back money stolen.
Kante further agreed to give the names of his companies and partners both in Liberia and Sierra Leone including Royal Logging company in Sierra Leone and Royal Gold in Liberia.
FrontPageAfrica also gathered that Kante disclosed the names of Liberian government officials that helped him to get and sell Liberian Diplomatic passports.
One of them, according to the source is currently on U.S. sanctions, and others working within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also gave the names of a particular security personnel who is into the car business (names withheld by the source) that he said was his partner who assisted him in moving stolen cars into Liberia across the border and by the container at the port.
As part of the plea bargain with Kante’s lawyer, according to the sources, has agreed to become an informant for the U.S-based investigative team to help them with many unanswered questions that have to do with Illegal activities in Liberia and Sierra Leone which qualified him for the early release program.
Kante is currently in the U.S. under house arrest as he was transferred from the prison facility to an early-release housing program where he will serve his minimum sentence of 6 months to a year and will be released.