Liberia: Senator Alphonso Gaye Flexes Muscles With Justice Ministry In Audit Reports

Capitol Hill, Monrovia, Liberia – June 20, 2019: A lawmaker from the sub political division of Grand Gedeh County in southeastern Liberia G. Alphonso Gaye is challenging the country’s Ministry of Justice on what he believes is a wrongful procedure being used to indict former and current government officials implicated in prior audit reports.

Senator S. Alphonso Gaye

This week, authorities of the Justice Ministry released past audit reports to the public saying, the Ministry reserved the right to invite anyone of interest that is named in the reports. 

The action by the Liberian Justice Ministry comes barely three weeks after President George Weah declared that his government will audit past government transactions.  

The Weah Administration is facing pressure to address several financial scandals.

But Senator Gaye, in an apparent reaction to the Ministry on Thursday, June 20, 2019 wrote the Senate Pro Tempore, Albert T. Chie informing him of the ‘wrongful’ procedures being applied by the Justice Ministry to indict individuals named in the General Auditing Commission (GAC) audit reports. 

“My attention is drawn to media reports naming former and/or current officials of government that are either indicted or to be indicted by the Ministry of Justice based on GAC reports that they may have in their possession. This is wrong and it should be halted immediately”, Senator Gaye’s letter is quoted as telling the Senate leader.  

Letter From Senator Gaye

According to him, while he applauds the Ministry of Justice for performing its duties and responsibilities in keeping with statute, such action should be done in the framework of the law and established procedures. 

Therefore, he said, “…the Ministry should not be in the business of looking for cases to prosecute, rather it should wait for cases forwarded to it for prosecution.

The Senator, in his letter reminded his colleagues that the General Auditing Commission (GAC) is obligated by law to report to the National Legislature upon the completion of audits. 

After GAC completes an audit, the report is submitted to the National Legislature who in return mandates the Public Accounts, Audit and Expenditure Committee for scrutiny through a public hearing conducted by the Joint Public Account Committee (PAC)”, he further stressed. 

Liberia Minister of Justice Cllr Frank Musa Dean

Senator Gaye said, “it is upon completion of the scrutiny and validation by the Committee that validated repot is submitted to the Plenary of both Houses for endorsement. 

After the endorsement by both Houses of the Plenary, Senator Gaye divulge that the endorsed report is then submitted to the President who now forwards same to the Ministry of Justice for action based on the findings and conclusion contained in the validated report.

Against this backdrop, the Grand Gedeh Senator concluded that GAC report that is not validated by the Legislature and cannot be used as an instrument to indict anyone, be it former or current government officials.  

Former Information Minister Lewis G. Brown

Former Deputy Finance Minister James Kollie Jr.

Meantime, a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning James Kollie Jr and a former Minister of Information and UN Ambassador Lewis G. Brown are also challenging the inclusion of their names in the GAC Reports saying they were not contacted during the mentioned audits.

Reporting By Paul Kanneh in Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia & France Collaborate To Investigate Alleged War Criminal, Civitas Maxima Says

Geneva – June 12, 2019: In spring 2019, the French and Liberian authorities collaborated on a fact-finding mission relating to proceedings that were commenced in France following the arrest, in September 2018, of Kunti K. for acts committed during the First Civil War in Liberia between 1989 and 1996. This mission required significant logistical resources and took place in Lofa County in northwestern Liberia.

Ex Liberian Warlord Alhaji Kromah and some fighters of the disbanded ULIMO-K Militia - File Photo
Ex Liberian Warlord Alhaji Kromah and some fighters of the disbanded ULIMO-K Militia – File Photo

Civitas Maxima, in a press statement issued Wednesday in Geneva say, this was the first time since the end of the Second Civil War in 2003 that Liberian authorities have proceeded, along with foreign authorities, to undertake crime scene reconstructions relating to war-time crimes. These reconstructions took place in the presence of the French prosecuting authorities, investigating judge, defense lawyers, and the civil parties. Throughout this one-week mission, the contribution of the Liberian authorities was exemplary.

Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project, in its statement said, it  acknowledges the quality of the work undertaken by both French and Liberian authorities and congratulate them for taking this step in fulfilling their international obligations. This, Civitas Maxima and GJRP believe, is an important development in the fight against impunity for crimes that were committed in Liberia during the two Liberian Civil Wars.

Civitas Maxima and Global Justice & Research Project
Civitas Maxima and Global Justice & Research Project

Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project have been collaborating since 2012, and together represent hundreds of victims of the two Civil Wars which killed more than 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003.

Civitas Maxima, represented by the lawyer Simon Foreman, stands alongside Liberian victims and takes part as a civil party in the proceedings against Kunti K. in Paris, the statement concluded.

Political Map of Liberia
Political Map of Liberia

No one has faced prosecution in Liberia for human rights and atrocities committed during the country’s devastating civil wars in the 1990s.

International and local rights organizations are coordinating efforts to ensure that recommendations of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which include the establishment of a war crimes court are established.

West African Journal Magazine

Former TRC Head And IJG Executive Director Cllr Jerome Verdier Calls For Implementation of TRC Report

Washington DC – April 12, 2019: The Executive Director of The International Justice Group (IJG) and Chairman of the erstwhile Liberia’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) says he is delighted and is lauding the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) and the Transitional Justice Working g Group (TJWG) for recognizing the need for entrenching Justice into the country’s body polity.

Executive Director of IJG and Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier
Executive Director of IJG and Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier

He is also welcoming their courageous calls for the full implementation of all the recommendations of the TRC, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Economic and War Crimes Tribunal for Liberia.

In an statement to West African Journal Magazine on Friday, Cllr Verdier reiterated that the call for the full implementation of all TRC recommendations is in keeping with law and section 46 of The TRC Act when it clearly stated that “The Independent Human Rights Commission shall be seized with the responsibility to ensure that all the recommendations contained in Report of the TRC are implemented and that and that civil society organizations and moral guarantors of The CPA shall be seized of the responsibility to monitor,  and campaign for the scrupulous implementation of all recommendations  contained in the report”.

Liberia President George M. Weah
Liberia President George M. Weah

And Section 48 which also provides that “The Head of State shall report to the National Legislature within three (3) months of receipt of the report of the TRC, and on a quarterly basis thereafter, as to the implementation of the Commission’s Recommendations. All recommendations shall be implemented. Where the implementation of any recommendations has not been complied with, the Legislature shall require the Head of State to show cause for such non-compliance.”

Chairman Verdier charged that both the Liberian National Legislature and the Liberia President George M. Weah are in open violation of the laws of Liberia and the Rule of Law principle which places the law far above individuals and institutions created by law. The former TRC Chairman said maintaining the Rule of Law is important for maintaining a stable and more peaceful society and acts as the number one incentive for attracting international trade, commerce and foreign investments to the Country.

Liberia TRC
Liberia TRC

“That the Liberia Chief Executive, President Weah, to be in open violation of the law without any plausible excuse or justification is a non-starter especially for a new Government,” Cllr Verdier said, adding that “the President and his CDC- controlled Legislature are undermining the viability of the State and setting very wrong precedence for security, stability and peace of the State because soon the citizens will realize that if these important institutions of State are lawless and disrespectful of the laws then they too as citizens have the right to refuse to obey the laws of the land, pointing to chaos, a breakdown of law and order and the eventual unraveling of our fledgling democratic process.”

The Executive Director of the IJG Cllr Verdier, in his statement, noted Liberia should recognize, as the international community has long since recognized, that the rule of law above all men is imperative because it stabilizes our environment and societies.

“It is very Central to maintaining our modern global social, political and economic order the pursuit of which we all must submit to the rule of law whether it pleases us or not or runs contrary to our intrinsic interest, he maintained,” he said

The learned international human rights advocate and outspoken campaigner for social justice and peace said that “the Rule of Law is our best hope for peace, equity, justice and a civilized society in which the rights of the people are protected and at all times guaranteed.”

Members of the Legislature
Cross Section of Liberia National Legislature

According to him, “President George Weah and the National Legislature are failing and disappointing the Liberian people too early on in their leadership and ignoring the Rule of Law. It is to their own peril because when they stand in need of the law most, the law will fail them, having undermined the law and our institutions of law.”

Verdier emphasized that the full implementation of all the recommendations of Liberia’s TRC Final Report, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia is “sine qua non” to the attainment of sustainable national peace, national  unity, national security and national reconciliation in in a non-threatening society that offers equal opportunity to all.

“President Weah must not disappoint the Liberian people. Too many hopes were hinged to his ascendency. He must take the moral high ground in service to state and abandon petty parochial interests, recognize that he took an oath and made a sworn declaration to put Liberia first, hold Paramount national interest and uphold sacrosanct the Constitution and Laws of the Republic; otherwise, he will be an ordinary and failed leader and admiration by the people will soon diminish and will leave office soon forgotten as a son of the soil and a “man of the people” without a legacy and a champion “without a cause”, Cllr Verdier in his statement said.

Meanwhile, the IJG Executive Director has condemned the recent removal of Supreme Court Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, describing it as a “shameful cowardly act orchestrated by a band of political malcontents without any well-founded basis in law or the Constitution by an overly ambitious Executive branch aspiring to become a dictatorship, a rueful House of Representatives, an ignorant Senate and a highly compromised Chief Justice in a Kangaroo forum that flagrantly violated the Constitution of Liberia, which they neither understand nor appreciate; thus bringing shame and disgrace to our beloved patrimony.”

Chief Justice Francis Korkpor
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor

Cllr Verdier, a veteran and successful senior Liberian lawyer and member of The Honorable Supreme Court Bar, went on to say of all the reasons in law and the Constitution that the co-conspirators could use to effect their cowardly and unpatriotic act, they chose to woefully, shamefully and disgracefully violate the Constitution when in Article 73, the Constitution provides that “NO JUDICIAL OFFICIAL SHALL BE SUMMONED, ARRESTED, DETAINED, PROSECUTED OR TRIED CIVILLY, OR CRIMINALLY, BY OR BY THE INSTANCE OF ANY PERSON OR AUTHORITY ON ACCOUNT OF JUDICIAL OPINIONS RENDERED OR EXPRESSED, JUDICIAL STATEMENTS MADE  AND JUDICIAL ACTS DONE IN THE COURSE OF A TRIAL IN OPEN COURT  OR IN CHAMBERS, EXCEPT FOR TREASON OR OTHER FELONIES, MISDEMEANOR, OR BREACH OF THE PEACE. STATEMENTS MADE AND ACTS DONE BY SUCH OFFICIALS IN THE COURSE OF JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS SHALL BE PRIVILEGED, AND SUBJECT TO THE ABOVE QUALIFICATION, NO SUCH STATEMENTS MADE OR ACTS DONE SHALL BE ADMISIBLE INTO EVIDENCE AGAINST THEM AT ANY TRIAL OR PROCEEDINGS”

In his view, Cllr Verdier held that Justice Ja’neh was under-represented, and his lawyers should be subject to disciplinary hearings and punished or sanctioned, while those lawyers for the prosecution must be disbarred and the Chief Justice deserves to be removed or similarly impeached or made to resign.

Associate Justice Kabineh Jan'eh
Associate Justice Kabineh Jan’eh

Since the case is not over yet, the international lawyer, former TRC head and Executive Director of the IJG called on the Liberian Senate to NOT move to confirm removal of The Honorable Justice Ja’neh until the full bench of the Supreme Court of Liberia disposes of the matter by appeal.

“Advocates or lawyers for Justice Ja’neh must perfect an appeal to the full bench of the Honorable Supreme Court. In which case, the Compromised Chief Justice will be compelled  to recuse himself and the remaining Justices will decide the appeal,” Verdier concluded in his statement.

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: Central Bank and Govt Locked In “War of Words”

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – March 5, 2019: The Swedish based currency manufacturing company involved in the biggest financial scandal in the West African country of Liberia is pushing back strongly against Economic Sabotage charges by the Liberian Government.

Crane Currency
Crane Currency

In a 13 – page consolidated response to the charges, a copy of which is in the possession of the West African Journal Magazine, Crane Currency explained that it negotiated and entered into two currency printing contracts on May 6, 2016 and July 28, 2017 with the Government of Liberia through representatives of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL).

According to the company, “Crane entered into both contracts in reasonable reliance on the CBL’s apparent authority to lawfully award and enter into the subject contracts. At all points, Crane worked with officials from the CBL to enter into and perform under the contracts and to agree all changes in writing. Each contract was subsequently amended by mutual agreement in writing between the aCBL and Crane to include the delivery of additional over-produced banknotes and to reflect changes in CBLs shipping requirements9e.g.) by overnight rather than by sea, to accommodate the CBL’s accelerated schedule.) All changes were memorialized in exchanges of letters, emails and invoice statements…,” the company said.

On April 1, 2019, the Government of Liberia, through its Department of Justice, issued a statement in which it said that it “… categorically rejects claims made by Crane Currency in a statement issued on March 21, 2019, that it has not been charged with any crime in Liberia. To the contrary, Crane Currency and officials of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), both current and past, were charged and indicted on March 4, 2019 for Economic Sabotage, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation, in the printing of excess Liberia Dollar Banknotes…”

Crane Currency said it fulfilled contractual agreement to the CBL as set out in the two contractual delivery agreements and in documented proof for the printing of additional banknotes which the Liberian Government is alleging in its indictment. The total contractual payment to Crane for the printing for the banknotes was $15,867,270.43 (Fifteen Million, Eight Hundred and Sixty Seven Thousand, Two Hundred and Seventy Dollars and Forty Three cents). In denying any impropriety in the fulfillment of its contractual obligation to the CBL, the currency printer disclosed that the 2016 Contract contained the following:

Denomination Quantity (pieces)
L $5 15,000,000
L$10 10,000,000
L$20 10,000,000
L$50 20,000,000
L$10 26,250,000
L$500 2,000,000
Total $83,250,000

Crane further disclosed in its statement that the original 2017 Contract contained:

 

Denomination Quantity (pieces)
L$5 6,000,000
L$10 35,000,000
L$20 50,000,000
L$50 15,000,000
L$100 50,000,000
L$500 5,740,000
Total 161,740,000

Crane is insisting that, “The agreements in writing for additional ‘good banknotes’ increased these originally contracted quantities to the totals actually delivered, as set out in the consolidated response…” and provided copies of signature pages for the two contracts with the CBL.

Liberia Justice Minister Counselor Frank Musa Dean
Liberia Justice Minister Counselor Frank Musa Dean

But the Liberian Government, in its statement, held that, “During the investigation by the Presidential Investigation Team (PIT), the airway and seaway bills, along with the packing lists clearly established that Crane printed 18.6 billion Liberian dollars banknotes, over the 15 billion Liberia dollar banknotes it was contracted to print…” At issue in the biggest financial scandal is the question of who authorized senior bank officials to amend the contract for the printing of additional banknotes totaling $18.6 billion LD.

“The Ministry of Justice also states that Crane Currency’s claims that it did not print and deliver excess Liberian Dollar Banknotes to the CBL is not supported by the facts, as contained in the Reports of The Presidential Investigation Team (PIT) and Kroll Associates, In (Kroll). These claims by Crane are totally without merit, not made in good faith, not supported by the records at the CBL and Crane Currency’s own records, submitted to the PIT and Kroll, ” the Government of Liberia said.

But Crane Currency rejects the PIT REPORT SECTION 5.2.2d and says after conducting its own forensic examination, it was able to identify areas where shipping records do not support the conclusions made in the PIT report. “Crane has conducted a forensic examination of Packing Lists (produced by Crane to notify the customer of what is in the shipment leaving the prints works), Air Way Bills (produced by the Airline to record what should be transported) and Air Cargo Manifests (produced by the Aircraft crew to record what has actually been transported on a particular aircraft)…”

In its attempt to explain the discrepancy in the shipping data, Crane said, “…for the 2017 Contract, the PIT report counts deliveries by two Brussels Airlines flights that were in fact canceled. As a result, the report double counts deliveries (the flights that were canceled and the flights that actually happened) and overstates the total number of banknotes delivered to Liberia by 2,645 (Two Million, Six Hundred and Forty Five Thousand) Liberian Dollars. Records of Air way and sea way bills were included in Crane Currency response to buttress its assertion that it undertook the two contracts as agreed.

Between 2016 – 2018, a total of twenty shipments which included the physical movements of Liberian banknotes to the CBL were conducted. There were six shipments for the 2016 Contract; 2 by air and 4 by sea and 14 shipments for 2017 Contract: 7 by air and 7 by sea. On the question of whether the CBL received the twenty shipments of banknotes, Crane Currency explained that freight company would be the entity to confirm delivery to the destination in Liberia.

Accused and Indicted Liberia Central Bank Officials
Accused and Indicted Liberia Central Bank Officials

A former Executive Governor of the Bank Milton Weeks and a current Deputy Charles Sirleaf along with another CBL official Dorbor Hagba were arrested and jailed shortly after the release of the Kroll and PIT forensic reports and implicated in the overprinting. They are free on bail pending trial.

“The Ministry of Justice wishes to emphasize that after receiving Crane Currency’s reaction to their Reports, both Kroll and PIT have stated that they stand by their Findings regarding the printing of excess Liberian dollar Banknotes by Crane Currency,” the Government of Liberia said.

The big financial scandal has damaged confidence and reputation of the Government of Liberia and Central Bank. The case goes to trial in May at the Criminal Court C in Monrovia.

It is unknown if Crane Currency will appear to answer the charges laid by the Government of Liberia.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

U.S. House Bill Amendment Will Provide Reward For Arrest-Conviction for War Crimes

Washington DC USA – April 1, 2019: A Bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to, “Amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to provide for rewards for the arrest and conviction of certain foreign nationals who have committed genocide or war crimes.”

Former Liberian Militia Leaders
Former Liberian Militia Leaders

Known as H.R. 1819, North Carolina’s 5th Congressional District Republican Virginia Foxx introduced the bill on March 18, 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives.

There are direct implications for Liberian warlords, if the proposed Bill, becomes law in the United States.

Several major war actors named in Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) are yet to face prosecution for their roles in gross human rights abuses during the wars in the West African country in the 1990’s. A TRC Final Report was submitted to the Government of Liberia in June 2012 but recommendations contained therein have since been ignored.

The TRC, in its Final Report catalogued location, victims and types of violations committed by the various militias in Liberia’s civil war as follows:

County Victims Violations
Montserrado 14,980 22,094
Bong 12,546 22,175
Lofa 11,296 18,863
Nimba 7,784 12,794
Bomi 5,970 9,840
Gbarpolu 7,285 13,574
Grand Bassa 6,227 10,739
Margibi 3,394 5,154  
Sinoe 5,706 9,266  
Maryland 3,934 6,162  
Grand Kru 3,296 5,568  
Grand Gedeh 4,010 6,569  
River Gee 4,030 6,839  
Rivercess 2,315 3,566  
Grand Cape Mount 5,768 ,9354  
Unknown 781 1,058  
TOTAL 93,322 163,615  

Of the various violations cited by the TRC Final Report, the top five included Displacement, Killings, Assault, Abduction and Looting by militias.

88 % of Violations were committed by the NPFL, LURD, Liberia Peace Council, Militia, ULIMO, MODEL and the Armed Forces of Liberia during the wars in the 1990s; the NPFL and LURD being the top two, according to the TRC. 19 Perpetrators were named  for cooperating with the TRC process and not recommended for Prosecution.

The Leaders of the 8 major warring factions recommended for Prosecution included:

Charles G. Taylor – NPFL

Prince Y. Johnson – INPFL

Roosevelt Johnson (Deceased) – ULIMO & ULIMO-J

Alhaji G.V. Kromah – ULIMO & ULIMO-K

George Boley – Liberia Peace Council

Thomas Yayah Nimely – MODELl

Sekou Damate Konneh – LURD and

Francois Massaquoi (Deceased) – Lofa Defense Force

TRC Head Cllr Jerome Verdier
TRC Head Cllr Jerome Verdier

Those named as bearing the greatest responsibility for extra judicial excesses included leaders of the various militias, some of whom presently serve in the Liberian Government.

Former rebel leader turned former President Charles G. Taylor is serving a 50 years jail term in the UK following his conviction for his role in the war in the war in neighboring Sierra Leone. Prince Y. Johnson is a Senator from Nimba County in Liberia’s National Legislature. No one has been prosecuted in Liberia for their role in war and economic crimes.

Other war actors who fled Liberia are being being identified, arrested and prosecuted in the United States and Europe.

U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee
U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee

The latest Bill is an attempt by the U.S. Congress to hold accountable perpetrators in Liberia and others elsewhere around the world for their roles in genocide and war crimes.

The major perpetrators have been identified in Liberia and their arrests will facilitate prosecution in a court whose location is to be determined, once it is up an running. The TRC Final Report recommended the mechanism for the establishment of a War Crimes Court.

Additional Congressional Bills are also making their way through Committees in the U.S. for the setting up of a War Crime Tribunal in Liberia. Once the H.R. 1819 becomes law in the U.S. the State Department will work with various U.S. agencies to implement the  provision of the reward for the arrest abnd conviction of those foreign nationals who have committed genocide or war crimes.

Recently, two Liberian rights groups – the Movement for Justice in Liberia (MOJL) and the International Justice Group (IJG) visited the office the U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi in Washington DC to offer support for, “House Resolution 1055 among other things seeks to affirm strong United States- Liberia ties and support for democratic principles. The Resolution also calls for the full implementat ion of the Truth and Reconci l iat ion Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia…”

The Weah Government in Liberia is refusing to committ to implementation of the TRC Report, inspite of urgings of local and international rights organizations, the United Nations, European Union and the U.S. Government.

By Our International Affairs Editor

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: CBL Scandal Defendants Charged With Economic Crimes; Plead “Not Guilty”

The basis for the arrest of senior Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) officials in the financial scandal is now in the possession of West African Journal Magazine.

Monrovia City Court Writ of Arrest
Monrovia City Court Writ of Arrest

The Writ of Arrest charges the crimes Economic Sabotage, Misuse of Public Money, Property or Records and Disbursement and Expenditure of Public Money, Criminal Conspiracy and Criminal Facilitation.

The Writ commands the arrest of the “…living bodies” of Charles E. Sirleaf, Milton Weeks, Dorbor Hagba, Richard H. Walker I, and Joseph G. Dennis. Those arrested were docked at the Monrovia City Court on Monday where they pleaded “not guilty”.

The arrest of the bank officials followed the release of damning audit reports on “missing billions” at the Central Bank.

Meantime, Liberian social media sites have blown up with postings calling for more arrests including Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah who is alleged to be the mastermind in the so-called “infusion” of $25 million USD in the Liberian economy using unregistered and unknown local money changers.

Posters says they will effect a “citizens arrest” of Minister Tweah, if Government refuses to do so. But it is unclear, if such an action is even feasible. Fall-out from the audit report continues to tarnish the image of Government of Liberia.

USD-Liberian Dollar Depreciation 3.5.19
USD-Liberian Dollar Depreciation 3.5.19

Meantime, the Liberian dollar on Tuesday took another nose dive against the US dollar. Exchange rate is now $1 USD is equivalent to $162 Liberian dollars. The depreciation of the Liberia dollar is further sign of lack of confidence in Government’s ability to stabilize the economy in addition to the notoriety of the scandal at the Central Bank involving overprinting of billions of Liberian dollars and its inability to account for the money. 

Staff Reporter

West African Journal Magazine

 

Government of Liberia Failing To Support Fight Against Corruption, LACC Says

Monrovia, Liberia – February 18, 2019: The fight against public corruption in the West African country of Liberia appears to be a losing exercise in addition to lackluster support from the George M. Weah Administration. 

Liberian President George M. Weah – File Photo
Since it’s inauguration over a year ago,  no public official has been prosecuted nor convicted of graft by the Administration.  The Liberian Government’s pronouncement of fighting corruption in public service has not been matched with concrete support and funding. 
Embarrassing National financial scandals including the alleged “missing 16 billion dollars” from the Central  Bank of Liberia (CBL) and the bribery and extortion saga at the National Housing Authority (NHA) involving the former head take top manifestations of pervasive graft which are yet to be checkmated by government. 
Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as, “…the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.”
In spite of his call to his own underlings to comply with law and declare their personal assets, President Weah has yet to hold his officials accountable for their failure to do so.  Citizens of the poor West African country are yet to receive confirmation of public officials complying with the law.

LACC James Verdier

According to the country’s Anti Corruption Agency (LACC), “The government of Liberia printed into handbill on June 20, 2014, “An Act of Legislature Prescribing a National Code of Conduct for All Public Officials and Employees of the Government of The Republic of Liberia” in line with the 1986 constitutional requirement to curb certain vices which are inimical to the economic and social wellbeing of our common patrimony. Specifically, Article 90 a) & b) of the Constitution highlight those vices while article 90 c) quoted below echoes the antidote to eradicating them: Article 90 c) “The Legislature shall, in pursuance of the above provision, prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitutes conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties for violation thereof.”  The legislation of a national code of conduct after twenty-eight years, since the coming into force of the Liberian constitution, finally created a legal framework through which the conducts of public officials could be monitored, examined and punished in relation to the use and management of public resources. In Part 10, of the Code of Conduct, it is required that every Public Official and Employee of government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types sign performance or financial bonds and in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter:

  1. At the end of every three years;
  2. On promotion or progression from one level to another;
  3. Upon transfer to another public office; and
  4. Upon retirement resignation.”
President Weah’s own asset declaration was held behind closed doors and sealed after; a clear failure to be a transparent example. Public officials have openly ignored the asset declaration law and the President. 
“Corruption corrodes the fabric of society. It undermines people’s trust in political and economic systems, institutions and leaders. It can cost people their freedom, health, money – and sometimes their lives,” TI says of the cost of corruption. 
The LACC’s Investigations of alleged acts of corruption  by public officials or recommendations to the Justice Ministry are oftentimes never started, aborted and abandoned; and where cases are prosecuted, lost in court. 
Recently, the head of Liberia’s anti graft agency James Verdier, in an interview with a Radio France International, and in a rather bold move, accused the Weah Administration of “undermining ” the fight against corruption. 
“ The experience we’ve had in the first half is a bit terrible because we’ve not had funding. We have actually struggled to actually have this Administration put its stamp behind the stamp of corruption and make some bold statements regarding transparency, accountability and ensuring that we can fight corruption.”
In less than a year and while there has been no public disclosure of his assets, President Weah is facing scrutiny and questions over his massive construction of houses in a poor country. 
The country which emerged in 2005 from back-to-back wars in the 1990s is struggling to attract and retain critically needed foreign investors and resources to jumpstart the flailing economy. 
 In 1980, a violent coup d’etat carried out by non-commissioned soldiers was sold as a radical solution to address “rampant” corruption. The civilian President William R. Tolbert was murdered by soldiers led by former junta head and former President Samuel K. Doe.
Flag of Liberia
Nine years later, another charge of runaway “corruption” was laid as the basis for a rebel insurgency against the Doe Government. The war which quickly devolved into an ethnic conflagration was prosecuted by former rebel turned former a President Charles G. Taylor who was eventually forced out of power by rebels opposed to his government and pressure from the international community. 
Taylor is a convicted war criminal serving out his fifty year sentence in prison in the UK.  
An estimated 250,000 people lost their lives and nearly 1 million others were displaced internally and externally. 
The NHA extortion scandal is still pending prosecution after the accused posted bond and were released. Unconfirmed reports, however, say the suspects have jumped bail and have either fled the country or cannot be found. 
During his State of the Nation Address to lawmakers and citizens on January 28, 2019, President Weah disclosed that the Investigation Report on the “missing billions” will be released by USAID by the end of February, 2019.
 “If it is established that there has been any willful act of criminality, negligence, or malfeasance by anyone implicated in the reports, the full weight of the law will be brought to bear”, President Weah warned.  
Transparency International
Just prior to the inauguration of the Weah Administration in January, 2018 Transparency International (TI), the global organization leading the fight against corruption, advanced several recommendations to the Congress For Democratic Change (CDC) led government to tackle endemic corruption and included the following:
1. Ensure the independence of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and give it direct prosecutorial power to quickly investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
2. Establish specialised anti-corruption courts for prosecuting corruption without delays.
3. Enact a Corrupt Offences Act to clearly define and provide sanctions for various forms of corruption.
4. Enact a Whistleblower Protection Law to encourage more Liberians to freely report acts of corruption and other integrity-related issues.
5. Require all public officials, including the president, to declare their assets, irrespective of their positions or connections to superiors in government. The government must independently verify and publish these declarations of assets.
5. Review and impartially implement reports and recommendations by integrity institutions in a timely manner, and establish dedicated committees and bodies for investigating fraud and other forms of corruption.
6. Audit the legislature just like any other branch of government or institution that receives public funds. The 52nd and 53rd legislatures in particular should be audited and any recommendations from the audit report fully implemented and
7. Increase financial support to integrity institutions and enable them to properly function.
A year later, the Weah Administration is still delinquent in the adoption and implementation of TI’s recommendations. 
IJG Principal Deputy Executive Director Luigi Spera
Last September, the International Justice Group (IJG) announced that it was putting in place a mechanism to ensure that all those in Liberia accused of war and economic crimes, money laundering etc. will be exposed to the international justice system for tough punitive actions, including asset tracking and confiscation, international arrests, trial, and imprisonment if prosecuted and found guilty.
By Our Economic Editor With Contribution From Our Justice Correspondent In Monrovia
West African Journal Magazine