Liberia: LBDI President Confirms Nathaniel McGill’s US$200k Mortgage Application

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Report by Al Varney Rogers, [email protected]

Monrovia – Mr. John B. S. Davies’ response to growing concerns over Minister of State Nathaniel McGill’s acquisition of US$200,000 loan from the Liberia Development Bank for Investment (LBDI) rather added more insult to injury.

Davies who heads the LBDI bank was quite straight to the point in addressing a social media criticism of US$200,000 mortgage by the government official who is considered as the closest to the President.

He wrote, “It is well within Mr. McGill’s right to make a request to a financial institution (LBDI) that gives mortgage loans for a period up to 10 years and it is our rights to review that request and base on our assessment determine whether his project is bankable or not.”

Davies said he’s well abreast with McGill’s loan application which, according to him, started about a month ago. The application goes through three phases, he said.

He continued, “I (Davies) am aware of a request from Mr. McGill. I will also further state that my knowledge of this request spans at least a month.”

“This request as is required will go through a (three) 3-phase review process. The credit department, the banks management and since Mr. McGill is a PEP (meaning politically exposed person), it must go to the LBDI full board of directors for final approval.”

“Lastly assuming all other due diligence factors are satisfied, the question is ‘is Mr. McGill’s debt servicing capacity adequate on the basis of salary, despite service of employment being vulnerable?’”

The LBDI President said, the US$200,000 request would be funded up to US$140,000, adding that the Minister’s equity in the project must be fully demonstrated.

“Debt servicing for US$140K amount on average to around US$1350K which is less than the 33% maximum allowable deduction on salary as per our policy. As indicated all aspects of the process will be adhered to,” Davies said.

The concerns

The concerns of critics of the mortgage isn’t whether it is being legally acquired or not, but much questions have been raised over officials of government’s failure to declare their assets, yet, they’re acquiring more assets, less than six months after coming to power.

Davies’ disclosure that the loan was applied for about a month ago signals that the Minister of State began the loan’s paper work in April – just four months after taking office.

McGill served as chairman of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) before being appointed by President George Weah as Minister of State for Presidential Affairs.

He has often acted as President whenever President Weah is out of the country.

Gerald Yerkula, General Manager of The Center for Transparency and Accountability Liberia (CENTAL) said, the Minister’s acquisition of the huge loan for the purchase of a house whiles he’s relenting to declare his assets raises cause for concern.

“It indeed raises an eyebrow, we know the resolute salary of the Minister, so what’s the repayment arrangement?” Yerkula asked.

Yerkula further stated in a phone interview with FrontPageAfrica that it is not clear why the bank will want to take such risk with a presidential appointee.

“Why will a bank want to take that risk when there’s no stable source of income because he’s a political appointee? Usually the bank gives commercial loan,” CENTAL Program Manager said.

He further stated, “For Minister McGill, who is not taking this loan for business to get any return, this means the Minister will work two years plus without taking a dime from his salary to repay the loan,” Yerkula said.   

Yerkula lamented that President Weah and his officials’ failure to declare their assets would cast dark clouds over the government’s readiness to prosecute corrupt officials.

McGill is being lambasted by some critics who believe his move is anti pro-poor.

The property is situated in the VOA-R2 Community—along the Robertsfield Highway. And though the loan is yet to be finalized, according to LBDI President, reports have it that McGill is already remodeling the structure from its original design to suit his style and taste.

“The home is being redesigned with expensive marble tiles placed on the surface of its interior and parts of its exterior—as the image here clearly exhibit, while the yard is being paved with special designed brakes made by a foreign company here,” a local newspaper, Parrot, described ongoing works at the property.

Nathan N. Kwein, a Facebook user questioned why LBDI would consider loaning McGill, who has only three months of work history in this administration, such huge amount in house loan and whether the bank was taking into consideration the ramification if he’s to lose his job.

McGill isn’t the first government official to begin the building or purchasing of a mansion in the Weah-led government.

In February, President Weah himself came under the spotlight for his simultaneous demolition, construction and rehabilitation of his properties.

While the US$150,000 structure on 9th Street Sinkor was being demolished, his Jamaica Beach Resort in Thinkers Village was undergoing rehabilitation at the same time, construction works for what is believed to be his dream house got underway on the Robertsfield highway – all in February.

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