Liberia: Feud in NPA Hierarchy? – Comptroller to Get Ax Over ‘Non-Compliance’

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LONDON – FrontPageAfrica has reliably learned that Mr. Bill Twehway, the recently-appointed Managing Director of the National Port Authority is set to dismiss the comptroller Mr. Franklin W. Sarkoh for what authorities say is the lack of compliance and disregard for orders from the new port MD.

Efforts to reach Mr. Twehway has been unsuccessful but multiple sources confirmed to FrontPageAfrica Sunday that Mr. Sarkoh is still taking orders from the former Acting Managing Director Celia Cuffy-Brown and neglecting instructions from the new MD. “It is basically a non-compliance issue in the middle of an audit at the port,” one source speaking on condition of anonymity Sunday told FPA.  

Madam Cuffy-Brown, Deputy Managing Director/Administration at the NPA, worked in an acting capacity for several months until the recent appointment of Mr. Twehway. 

Mr. Sarkoh, it can be recalled was brought on by the former Acting Managing Director Madam Celia Cuffy Brown when she took over the authority in March, in a series of rapid moves which drew criticisms and put the NPA under the spotlight and immense public scrutiny.

Madam Cuffy came under fire for hiring four brothers of President George Manneh Weah, a decision she has repeatedly defended, insisting that she had the backing of the President. 

When she took over in March, Madam Cuffy-Brown immediately brought on Sarkoh as the new Comptroller along with an Internal Audit Department manager all though the department currently had a manager and other qualified auditors.

Sarkoh had previously worked at the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company in the Human Resources Department and before that for a small school in Logan Town called St. Matthews as Business Manager. Sarkoh is a graduate of the Cuttington Graduate School and had no prior professional accounting or finance certification and no evidence of such experience at the time of his ascension.

Madam Cuffy-Brown faced mounting criticisms amid accusations that she was undertaking a number of unauthorized actions that increased the authority’s payroll by nearly 50% without due regard for the revenue shortfall the port is currently experiencing. 

Since taking over recently, following his appointment by President Weah, Mr. Twehway, a former member of the National Legislature, reportedly instituted a stop audit on expenditures. The move reportedly drew a lot of internal rumbles is now being hailed as a key reason why some discrepancies are being spotted.

The stop audit, according to one source has slowed down a lot of activities including debts to consumers owed by the NPA.

“The new MD requested a stop audit because he wanted to make sure that things were in place so he can have control of happenings under his watch. It has actually slowed down operations but it is necessary,” a senior staffer told FrontPageAfrica Sunday.

The report comes amid reports that auditors are said to have unearthed a number of unexplained expenditures.

A stop audit is a process undertaken by new management looking to examine or inspect various books of accounts of a preceding management in a bid to ascertain the accuracy and what the new management is about to take control of.

This is the second time in as many years that a comptroller and the MD at the NPA have found themselves in hot water.

In 2015, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf suspended the Managing Director and Comptroller of the National Port Authority (NPA), Mrs. Matilda W. Parker and Mrs. Christina K. Pealay, respectively based on findings of an investigation by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

The National Port Authority (NPA) is a state-owned corporation establish to manage, plan, and build all public ports in Liberia. The NPA system has four ports: Freeport of Monrovia, Port of Buchanan, Port of Greenville, and Port of Harper. 

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