Monrovia-March-8-TNR:The Better Future Foundation, BFF, in collaboration with Partners for Democracy and Good Governance (PdG) has formally petitioned the Government of Liberia, through President Joseph Nyuma Boakai to pursue accountability and recovery of Liberia’s stolen wealth, amounting to US$4.6 billion.

BFF, in its petition, also called for dispensation of Social Justice, fight against unbridled and systemic corruption, commitment to and indiscriminate application of the rule of law nationwide.

The petition statement, which was read on behalf of the collaborating CSOs by BFF President Augustine S. Arkoi, took place recently at a daylong Post-Election Peace and Reconciliation Dialogue organized by BFF and the Swedish Institute Alumni Network-Liberia, in collaborating with Partners for Democracy and Good Governance (PdG) and other civil society and pro-democracy groups in the edifice of the New Hope Academy in Jacobs Town, Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

BFF, proponent of Liberia Democracy Sustainability Platform, PdG, and civil society partners of the Mano River Union (MRU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) while congratulating Ambassador Joseph NyumaBoakai for his successful election as President of the Republic of Liberia in the 14, November, 2023 Presidential Runoff elections and his subsequent inauguration on 22, January 2024, humbly referred the Government of Liberia, under the Presidency of President Boakai to some of the previous national initiatives aimed at the Recovery of Liberia’s stolen wealth and assets.

BFF and PdG, in the petition, named the constitution of what was previously named as ‘Assets Investigation, Restitution, and Recovery Team, AIRRET,’ in 2019.

“Indeed, in 2019, the former administration rightly attempted to make good on that promise. To this effect, an Assets Investigation, Restitution and Recovery Team (AIRRET Team) was officially instituted with so-much publicity at the Ministry of Justice and in October 2019, the Team formally announced that Liberia’s stolen money and other resources, amounted to Four Point Six Billion U.S. Dollars (US$4.6 billion)”, the Petition pointed out.

Prominent CSOs and human rights organizations that endorsed the Social Justice and Assets Recovery Petition include, the Montserrado Civil Society Council-Liberia; Rural Human Rights Activists Program; National Teachers Association of Liberia, Christian Association of the Blind; Voices Of The Elders- Republic of Liberia; The Liberia Crisis Center for Abused Women and Children; Human Rights Protection Forum; Youth Beyond Barriers; Center for Peace and Community Development; Women Beyond Borders; Liberia Returning Association in West Africa; Foundation for International Dignity; Foundation for Research Education and Empowerment; Smile for The Disabled- Liberia; and The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, among others.

“Mr. President, you may recall that the now former Solicitor General of Liberia and ex-Chief Prosecutor, Cllr. SaymaSyrenius Cephus, told the Liberian Nation, then, that the AIRRET Team needed at least Two Point One Million (US$2.1 million) to recover the US$4.6 Billion of Liberia’s stolen funds. The AIRRET Team subsequently visited the United States in this direction,” the CSO petitioners asserted.

However, BFF and its CSO partners told President Boakai that they are fully aware of a letter of resignation by the then Head of the AIRRET Team, Cllr.

Arthur Johnson, which he officially submitted to the Government of Liberia, through the office of the former Solicitor General of Liberia and ex-Chief Prosecutor, citing Lack of Political Will to fight corruption in Liberia and therefore opted to avoid what he, at the time, called “risking my career and hard-earned good reputation.”

“Nevertheless, this recovery effort”, according to the AIRRET, was led by three global institutions including Grant Thornton LLP, United Kingdom, Adesteh Limited UK, and Duane Morris LLP, New York”, the Petition further indicated.

BFF and PdG also quoted the immediate past government of Liberia as disclosing at the time that with the support of these international institutions, i.e. Grant Thornton LLP, UK, and Adesteh Limited, UK, Liberia filed a civil action with the Civil Law Court, Temple of Justice, Monrovia, Liberia, against “The Albatross Limited” (TAL) on September 15, 2020, and that during the hearing, the Court subsequently did adjudge liable, “The Albatross Limited” for the sum of 6.4m British Pounds (US$8m), ‘representing proceeds of financial crimes, ranging from non-payments of statutory annual registration fees, including but not limited to corporate taxes and other royalties due the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) vis-à-vis the Government of Liberia, which was frozen by the National Crimes Agency (NCA) in Great Britain.

The AIRRET, at the time, also told the Liberian Nation that the legal action was filed against The Albatross Limited (TAL) because its Articles of Incorporation having been duly “revoked and dissolved in 2009, all powers conferred upon it by law became inoperative, save only those powers specifically provided for by law to effect an orderly winding up of the business affairs, among others.

The AIRRET further disclosed, then, that it argued that the proper winding up should have included a Declaration of All Assets and Liabilities in the name of the Company to the authorities of the Republic of Liberia, but that was never done, hence, the Republic of Liberia became The legitimate power and authority to take seize of, and was accordingly awarded the £6.4m British Pounds (US$8m) detained and subsequently confiscated by the National Crimes Agency (NCA) in the United Kingdom which is owned by The Albatross Limited.

Moreover, Liberia, through its then Solicitor General, had argued that the only legally competent authority clothed with the statutory and constitutional responsibility to waive maritime liabilities and other royalties due the government of Liberia by any institution, as in the case of The Albatross Limited (TAL) is the Minister of Finance and being that there was no records to prove that the Minister had waived such liabilities during succeeding administrations, spanning over a period of 38 years, the money in question (US$8m) is a ‘proceeds of crimes committed against the Republic of Liberia’.

Liberia’s Prosecution Team, then, therefore, demanded the return of the said money to the Republic of Liberia as in keeping with the ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORIST FINANCING ACT, 2012, 4LCLR, Title 26, section 2.2(b); and the peace and dignity of the Republic of Liberia, and that the court should declare and did declare as “bona vacantia” money, the £6.4 million confiscated by the NCA as property of The Albatross Limited (TAL).

AIRRET further told the Nation, then, that the 6.4 British Pounds (US$8m) confiscated by the NCA and which was awarded to the Government of Liberia by the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia as Proceeds of Crimes committed by The Albatross Limited(TAL) in an ex parte proceeding executed due to The Albatross Limited’s failure to interpose any objection despite the countless precepts of court served and returned served throughout publications, is now ready and is now on verge of being repatriated through the kind instrumentality of Grant Thornton LLP, UK, to the coffers of the government and people of Liberia for development purposes.

AIRRET, also informed the Nation, that the Liberian government should contact two individuals who were identified as Mr. Amaechi Nsofor of Grant Thornton LLP, UK, and Mr. Fidelis Omozuapo of Adeste Limited, UK, ‘on how to go about securing and repatriating these stolen funds.

AIRRET also indicated that it had their ‘contract details and was ready to provide them at any time,’ the Petition further indicated.

According to AIRRET, after a rough calculation of the US$4.6 billion believed to have been total amount of money stolen from the Republic of Liberia between 1950 and 2012, its 3-man delegation, on a mission visited the United States, and held ‘fruitful consultations with a New York based firm, identified as Duane Morris LLP and other financial litigators, who, after a careful review of the sources and locations of these stolen funds, had offered to be given the franchise to go after these stolen funds, and in return, could have offered the Republic of Liberia the sum of United States One Billion upfront for the entire US$4.6 billion dollars.

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