Liberia Bars Housing Bribery Scandal Suspects From Leaving Country

In the ongoing alleged bribery scandal involving the head of Liberia’s National Housing Authority (NHA) and his principal deputy, the country’s Ministry of a Justice says,”…the officials of Government mentioning in the recording categorically reject any suggestions that Messers Duanah Siryon, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh and Augustine Weah acted on their behalf or with their consent…”

Duanah Siryon, NHA Managing Director

A Press Statement issued on Sunday afternoon in Monrovia confirmed the existence of a government investigation into the scandal saying,” …based on a petition filed by the Ministry of Justice filed on Friday, November 23, 2018, the Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice has issued the Writ of Nea Exit Republica barring Messers Duanah Siryon, Managing Director of the National Housing Authority, Tugbeh C. Tugbeh, Deputy Managing Director of the National Housing Authority and Augustine Weah from leaving the bailwick of the Republic of Liberia pending conclusion of the investigation.”

Siryon and his Deputy Tugbeh were reportedly arrested by state security on Friday for questioning following disclosure of a tape which implicated top government officials allegedly soliciting bribe for the warding of a housing contract to GELPAZ, a Burkinabe company.

Minister of State in the Liberian Presidency Nathaniel F. McGill

Strangely, the Justice Ministry, in its statement, is already appearing to side with those mentioned on the tape by amplifying their denial, while its investigation is ongoing.

The Justice, Finance and Ministry of State in the Presidency are all entangled in the alleged bribery plan as heard in discussion on tape. Their cut of the money was referred to as the “VIP Package”.

Liberia Minister of Finance and Planning Samuel Tweah

“The Ministry of a Justice (MOJ) wishes to emphasize that the solicitation, offer and acceptance of anything of value as consideration for the rendition of a public service constitutes bribery, a felonious offense punishable under Subchapter D, Subsection 12.50 of the Penal Code of the Republic of Liberia…,”the Press Statement said.

Depiction of Bribery

Liberians in and out of the country are outraged at the plethora of financial scandals plaguing public officials in the Weah Administration.

An ongoing investigation for $16 billion Liberian dollars has yielded no update since the Ministries of Justice, Information and the Central Bank all gave conflicting accounts of the missing money.

Also, the Liberian Government has yet to clearly explain the process of the infusion of $25 million USD in the local economy to stem its rapid decline.

Liberia Justice Ministry Press Statement

Some Liberians say that they less confident of any credible accountability in these scandals.

The Weah Administration is under heavy pressure to provide economic relief to suffering Liberians.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Top Liberian Govt Officials Linked To Alleged Bribery Scheme At Housing Authority

Monrovia, Liberia – November 23, 2018: A leaked recording of highly questionable business dealings entangling the President of Liberia, his cousin and several high government officials is making the rounds on social media.

GELPAZ’s Chief Alain Zoungrana and Liberia NHA Head Duannah Siryon– File Photo

The West African Journal Magazine has a copy of the nearly 10 minute recording which purports to disclose alleged questionable contractual dealings with GELPAZ, Burkinabe company.

The head of Liberia’s National Housing Authority(NHA) Mr. Duanah Siryon alleges a bribery scheme involving the Liberian President George M. Weah, his Chief of Staff Nathaniel F. McGill, a cousin of The President, one Augustus “Gus” Weah, the Ministers of Justice, Finance others.

Liberia Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean

West African Journal Magazine cannot independently verify details of the alleged bribery scheme involving the discussion of a “VIP Package” of US$160,000 to be shared among the NHA, US$100,000; the Justice Ministry, US$20,000 and US$40,000 to others to consummate the contract to building low cost housing units in Brewerville.

It is unclear if those whose names were mentioned on tape, including the NHA Head received any “kickbacks” in these allegations. Mr. Siryon has denied any involvement in the bribery scheme and is fingering others whose names are mentioned on the tape.

Liberian President George M Weah

There is no word yet from the Liberian Presidency on the allegations which broke overnight.

Meantime, local media in Monrovia are reporting that Liberian security personnel on Friday picked up the head of the National Housing Authority (NHA) for questioning as part of investigations.

Allegations of corruption have dogged Liberian Administrations. The Weah Administration has also failed to curb pervasive graft since its inauguration in January.

US House of Representative

In prepared remarks prior to a vote by the US House of Representatives which passed Resolution 1055 on November 13, 2018 in support of implementation of the Final Report of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Africa SubCommittee Chairman Ed Royce said, “…Much more needs to be done to crack down on corruption and create a more conducive environment for trade and economic investment. The government must ensure policies are in place to encourage businesses to invest, grow and create jobs…”

The Weah Administration is under enormous economic and political pressure at home to begin delivery of relief of millions of Liberians.

Flag of Liberia

Attempts at securing non-conventional loans from private sources have failed to materialize and the government has yet to explain the delay in disbursement of loans.

Sources say the private loans from Ebomaf and Eton are effectively dead.

The Weah Administration which is approaching its one year mark in January is facing growing unpopularity due to its inability to address grinding poverty in the West African country.

A recent manifestation of the erosion of popular support was a stinging defeat for a seat in local elections in one of its stronghold in the capital Monrovia. A candidate of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) John J. Weah (no relation to President Weah) lost a by election to independent candidate Edward P. Flomo.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine