Monday, April 23, 2012

April 27th Ruling Awaits LCCBC Fraud Case

Ruling in the lawsuit against four indicted employees of the Liberian Coca-Coca Kola Bottling Company (LCCBC) is expected to be handed down by Judge Blamo Dixon in the chamber’s section of Criminal Court “C” on the 27th day of April AD 2012. The ruling could bring the jury’s trial to an end, when the jurors would come up with a verdict of acquittal or conviction that may put to rest whether or not a US$1.8M fraud actually happened at the LCCBC. The indicted employees were charged with three counts; including misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation. The crimes engendered an alledged US$1. 8M loss to the entity. The defendants now under trial are George M. Paye, Emmanuel R.L. Tyler, Sam Oye and Tonia Kparteh. Each of the defendants had in open court pleaded not guilty to the allegation. If the charges levied against them are found to be true, the defendants’ reputation will be stained and careers may crumble. During the early stages of the case hearing in open court, the prosecution counsel paraded eleven witnesses including expert witnesses as well as five nolle prosequi defendants in person of Emmanuel Wleh, Chris Freeman, Eddie David, Williams Toe and George Grant. The prosecution witnessed testified to fourteen evidences that were marked, confirmed and admitted into evidence labeled from P/1 through P/14. These evidences consist of about forty instruments to include transaction records, letters of communication, miscellaneous sheets of paper and an audit report of an audit conducted by the company after it noticed the eleven defendants that were initial indicted have been doing budiness contrary to normal course. The initially indicted defendants were the managements of the UN-Drive and the Exclusive Supermarkets, the five nolle prosequi defendants-turn-prosecution witnesses, and the four defendants now on trial. Those edvidences presented to the court by the prosecution and attessted to by their witnesses tend to link the defendants to the allegation against. However, they (defendants in dock) have since April 11 taken the witness-stand to testify to their innocence. Three of the four defense witnesses who had been testifying have rated the prosecution evidences as flawed with a prejudicial motive against prime defendant Paye. When he took the stand, first defense witness Tonia Kparteh said the management of LCCBC promised him that he would be exonerated from the fraud case if he said negative things about defendant George Paye. He allegedly refused on grounds that he would not lie about defendant George Paye because he knew nothing negative about the individual who he had only got to know at the office as a professional person. During his time in the stand, second defense witness Sam Oye gave similar testimony about the offer made by official of the administrative staff of the LCCBC. These testimonies by the witnesses tend to impute that the lawsuit must have been masterminded by some individual to get at defendant Paye. Presenting his testimony, defense witness Oye told the court and jury that no fraud had occurred at the LCCBC in which he and his co defendants were involved in. He noted that reports on credited goods and sold products were presented to the commercial manager on a daily basis for accountability. He further told the court that all the proofs presented by the prosecution to justify that a fraud actually happened were flawed and lacked substance. Oye to the jury: “Those entire audit reports lack substance. They are all covered with flaw because those that conducted the audit did not adhere to the principle of audit.” He added that the audit was professionally erroneous in that the auditees who were the custodians to the audit were never seen or talked to while the audit was being carried out. Third defense witness Emmanuel R.L. Tyler offered a charged testimony to the court and identified some irregularities in the prosecution evidences when he pointed out to a daily sales settlement form that did not include the signature of salesman, Anthony Sartee nor the commercial manager. When asked by the prosecution counsel to compute figures in P/1 in bulk to determine whether there were shortages, witness Tyler to the court that if the prosecution wanted him to carry out such computation they should make available the module set up by LCCBC which is used in tallying sales records. The prosecution counsel, Cllr. Theophelius C. Gould, petitioned the court to grant forty minuets to get the module the witness asked for but such request was denied based on the defense counsel’s, Atty. Arthur T. Johnson, resistance. The resistance according to Judge Blamo Dixon was granted because the practice adopted by the prosecution was strange. He ruled that under the laws governing the courts in liberia, if a witness give an answer that the prosecution was not satisfy with, like the request made by the witness for a computer module that was not currently available, the proper remedy is to give a notice to produce a rebuttal witness. Be as it may, the defense witnesses are still on the stage to justify their innocence to the allegations against them. Their substantiated proofs of innocence will inevitably save their reputation and careers from being damaged now for the future. The Prosecution Counsel, Jury, and Court will rest on the third witness. This may eventually lead to prime defendant Paye taking on the witness stand. The LCCBC fraud case has now reached a critical point with the court’s ruling expectedly coming up in about three days from today. The ruling will have the defendants acquitted or convicted.

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