Thursday, June 21, 2012

Millions Embezzled

GoL Dormant on “Big Cash” in Corruption Fight? The fight against corruption has been reiterated as one of the Unity Party led government focal priorities in reforming the dangling society left behind by the country’s rebellion that lasted for about fourteen years. Such commitment has been evident by the establishment of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) which has the statutory mandate in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to cause the prosecution of corruption cases on behave of the Republic of Liberia. The LACC have cause the trials of several government officials who were alleged to have been depriving the state of much needed resources since the commission was enacted by the 52nd National Legislature on August 28, 2008. Some of the cases that can be recalled are the 2009 economic sabotage trials of Mr. Albert T. Bropleh, former Director of Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA), as a result of a US$71,022.00 allegedly embezzled by him from state coffers based on an audit conducted by the GAC. Besides the trials of Mr. Bropleh, several other cases have been tried and in recent times the trials for economic sabotage charged against former Director of Police Beatrice Munah Sieh in the tone of US$199,800 have rang through the media. A motion in the case questioning the LACC power to prosecute without collaboration of the Justice led to a ruling which stated that “the commission is competent, potent and possesses the legal authority, right and power to prosecute a case about corruption.” But have the Sirleaf led Government, which vowed to combat corruption and have created agencies which have tried to tackle the widespread phenomena turn a disregarded huge sundry funds that were embezzled prior to its incumbency? Such question have drawn attention to corruption cases involving officials of the erstwhile National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) who indictments have remain unheard at Criminal Court “C” since 2007 and 2009 respectively. One of such cases involve a theft of property charged against Mr. David N. Zarlee, who between the period of October 2003 and January 2006 raised and processed seventeen Ministry of Finance payment vouchers in various amount totaling US$804,125 that was never accounted for. The defendant according to indictment against him caused the government of Liberia paid to various vendors US$ 387,680 for goods and services that were never received by the Bureau of Budget where he served as Director during NTGL reign. Another case pending holds the charge of economic sabotage against four NTGL finance officials and a member of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) who was alleged to have embezzled state resources in the tone of US$3,651,486.40 and L$11,640,000 respectively between the period of October 2003 and January 2006. The former NTGL finance officials indicted are: Lusinee F. Kamara Minister of Finance, Tugbeh N. Doe Deputy Minister for Administration, Pyne Wallo Deputy Minister for Expenditure and Debt Management, Albert E. N. Quaye Chief of Anti-Fraud Unit and NTLA member Tapple E. Doe. According to the indictment standing against them, the defendants connive, conspire and collude with each other to and additionally used others namely: Roterta Francis and Christiana Cummings in their scheme to and steal the sundry sum from the Government of Liberia. All of the above mention individuals have been indicted by the grand jury of Montserrado since the time of their indictment (2007 and 2009) are said to be roaming society on bail bonds while the state has been struggling to have most of its programs implemented. Why have the LACC and/or the Ministry of Justice not caused the prosecution of the individuals so as to recover some of the funds that could supplement the national budget for the betterment of the state? A synopsis that could answer the question goes back to the former Director of Police, Madam Sieh case; on September 30, 2011, the MoJ issued a clearance certificate which stated that the ministry had conducted an investigation into the allegation against the defendants but did not gather sufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution of the matter.

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