Liberia: Should the US State Department be Quoting Allegations from Online Tabloids When preparing Important Documents Such as Annual Country Human Rights Reports?
The United States Department of State (DOS) recently published its 2020 country report on Human Rights Practices in Liberia and included the following:
“In August the Global News Network reported that Eva Mappy Morgan, chief judge of the Commercial Court and president of the National Trial Judges of Liberia, was the subject of an investigation for alleged malpractice.
Judge Morgan was linked to a 2013 communication in which it was alleged the Commercial Court authorized the withdrawal, without the consent of one of the litigating parties, of an amount of $3.4 million at the Liberian Bank for Development and Investment, which was being held in escrow pending final determination of a commercial dispute between Ducor Petroleum Inc. and the Monrovia Oil Trading Company. The court unilaterally ordered the withdrawal of more than three million dollars from the bank. The Judicial Inquiry Commission investigation of the case continued at year’s end.”
It is very disconcerting, troubling and disheartening to see in the Liberia Human Rights Report that the US State Department is spreading falsehood by quoting Global News Network, an extremely unreliable online tabloid. Global News Network grossly distorted what transpired in the case involving Ducor Petroleum, MOTC, and Mr. Amos Brosius regarding the so-called $3.4 million at the LBDI bank, which was being held in escrow.
The “misinformation” provided is false, malicious, and a patent attempt to sully the reputation of the Commercial Court Chief Judge, Eva Mappy Morgan, which has been built over decades. The 3.4 million claimed and reported by the US State Department without its own due diligence occurred as such:
On March 31, 2014, a written communication on the letterhead of the National Educators Lawyers Association of Liberia (LELAL) in the possession of this newspaper, was sent to Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan, Chief Judge of the Commercial Court, under the signature of Mr. Amos Brosius’ lawyers. The said communication stated that the Informant, Mr. Amos Brosius says the following:
Count 1: “That he accepts the payment for the audit of Ducor Petroleum Inc., to be conducted by PKF by and through the Commercial Court and/or the Parties to be made from the amount within the escrow account.”
Count 3: “That the Informant request[s] the Court and the Auditing Firm to please take into consideration the below listed points while conducting the Audit:
(i) The transfer or diversion of funds belonging to Ducor by MOTC. That is 3.4 million USD belonging to Ducor Petroleum Inc., for products supplied to Firestone Rubber Plantation was illegally transferred/diverted upon the directives of MOTC to account number 110-12-001471 at Global Bank for MOTC without the consent of Mr. Amos P.K. Brosius. See attached Exhibit Marked as “I/1” proof of the transaction.”
The said communication carries the signatures “thru his Legal Counsels:
NELAL, Tuan Wreh Law Firm, and Dean & Associates”. The signature line for Gongloe & Associates was left void.
Had Global News Network, and perhaps the US State Department endeavored to dig a little further for the truth, instead of attempting to ruin the reputation of Chief Judge Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan, they would have seen from the information that the 3.4 million USD was never escrowed under the directives of Chief Judge Eva Mappy Morgan at the LBDI.
Further, had Global News Network conducted any due diligence, and this includes the US State Department, they would have seen in the records that AT NO TIME WAS $3.4 MILLION EVER ESCROWED AT LBDI at the filing and/or pendency of this matter.
A mere use of Global News Network’s supposed journalistic skills, or even the US State Department’s own efforts to confirm a story of such magnitude could have used the Freedom of Information Act request mechanism to obtain records from the Court, LBDI, or even the Central Bank of Liberia to verify the veracity of the claims.
It is rather disturbing that, in writing a Human Rights Report on another country, given all the ramifications of such a report, a Department of State for a country that is internationally regarded a harbinger of the rule of law, accountability and transparency would cite totally baseless, false and misleading information from an online tabloid.
Better still, had Global News Network and the US State Department made any good faith attempt of reading through the Court records, they would have seen from the attached exhibits with the above.
Having said that, Her Honor Eva Mappy Morgan, a distinguished Associate Professor at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, a published author, and Chief Judge of Liberia’s premier Commercial Court, could not have “unilaterally ordered the withdrawal of more than three million dollars” from an escrow account at LBDI, because neither did the escrow account exist at LBDI, nor could the Commercial Court have given directives to the bank to withdraw/ divert funds in 2010, whereas in reality, the Commercial Court Judges were commissioned by former President Ellen Sirleaf in September 2011, after the Court was established with the assistance of the World Bank Group.
Liberia: Comprehensive Credit Infrastructure Reform Critical to Improving Access to Credit for SMEs (worldbank.org)
New Commercial Court Judges Commissioned
At Friday’s [September 2, 2011] ceremony, the President also commissioned Counselors Eva Mae Mappy Morgan, Richard S. Klah and Chan Chan Paygar as Chief Judge and Associate Judges, respectively, of the new Commercial Court.
New Associate Justice Banks and Commercial Court Judges Commissioned; President Launches Law Reform Commission’s 5-Year Strategic Plan, and Makes LRC, MICAT Appointments (emansion.gov.lr)
The reference of the $3.4 million to which Global News Network venomously ascribes to the conduct of Chief Judge Mappy Morgan occurred between the period from 2006 to 2010.
The only escrow account to the knowledge of the Court regarding this case relates to the Afriland Bank, where only US$212,704.36 was escrowed and the Parties agreed that a portion of that amount would be used for the conduct of the PKF Audit (agreed to in the March 31, 2014 letter mentioned supra.
Notice should also be taken that on October 4, 2018, the Daily Observer carried the story “Brosius Vindicates Judge Morgan in US$3.4M ‘Illegal Bank Withdrawal’ Claim”
Mr. Amos Brosius, one of the contestant managers of Ducor Petroleum Incorporated (DPI), has dismissed as false and unfortunate reports that he persuaded several media outlets to accuse Judge Eva Mappy Morgan of withdrawing, without his consent, US$3.4 million out of the entity’s escrow account at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI).
Brosius Vindicates Judge Morgan in US$3.4M ‘Illegal Bank Withdrawal’ Claim | Liberian Observer
Further, on October 3, 2018, the FrontPageAfrica newspaper reported that Liberian businessman, Amos P.K. Brosius, a minority shareholder of Ducor Petroleum Incorporated has denied accusing Commercial Court Judge Eva Mappy Morgan of withdrawing more than US$3 million from his account at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) as reported by the media. Brosius made the disclosure on Monday, October 1, 2018 when he appeared in court (Commercial Court) to answer to a four-count writ of summons for contempt on the allegation of corruption.
Liberia: Businessman Denies Accusing Commercial Court Judge Mappy Morgan of Corruption – FrontPageAfrica (frontpageafricaonline.com)
One wonders why the US State Department would ignore the reportage of these two newspapers which have combined decades of physical presence in Liberia and reputational recognition in the field of journalism, but rather include in their country report venomous falsehood pulled from a little known online tabloid.
It would behoove the US State Department immediately to publicly withdraw the said negative statements about the Commercial Court Chief Judge in its 2020 Liberia Country Report and publicly issue a statement of apology to Her Honor Judge Eva Mappy Morgan for spreading false and baseless information which impugn her character.
The US State Department should be the very last entity to give credence to irresponsible online tabloid reports.