By Reuben Sei Waylaun
The Special Presidential Committee setup to investigate the bribery scandal with ExxonMobil in awarding Block-13 as reported by Global Witness has recommended those involved to restitute US$365,000.00 received in bonuses to the Government of Liberia or else they would be prosecuted for receiving ‘unlawful reward’.
The committee has also recommended that chairman and members of the Board of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) who received such bonuses accumulating to US$136,560.05.00 be made to restitute or face prosecution. This means the money received in bonuses amounted to US$501,560.05.00
Recently President Weah ordered investigation of ExxonMobil ‘Fraudulent’ acquisition of Oil Block 13.
Early this year, Global Witness urged the Liberian Government to investigate ExxonMobil’s US$120 million oil deal and ensure independence of the Liberia Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI).
The report said some ex-officials received US$35,000 among others to sign off on Block 13 to ExxonMobil. Block 13 was originally awarded by NOCAL in 2005 to Liberian-Anglo company Broadway Consolidated/Peppercoast (BCP). In 2007, the block was ratified by the Liberian legislature through alleged bribery.
But Global Witness’ evidence shows that the company was likely part-owned by former Mining Minister Jonathan Mason and former Deputy Minister Mulbah Willie.
Those ex-officials alleged for taking bribe include Natty O. Davis, former National Investment Commission (NIC) chairman, Former Justice Minister Christaina Tah, Amara Konneh, National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) former Board Chairman Robert Sirleaf, former Mines Minister Patrick Sendolo, former President of NOCAL, Randolph McClain, and James Kollie.
Others are Seward Cooper, Susan Mapples, Idella Cooper Shannon, Kou Dorliae, Jeff Wood, Alpha Shah, Anyaa Vohiri and Varbah Gayflor all took money accumulating to US$365,000.00.
However, in its recommendations, a copy in posession of The New Republic, the special presidential committee wants an immediate detailed forensic auditing of the NOCAL be commissioned and excuted before a new leadership is appointed to the corporation.
“Said audit should not be limited to simple accounting of the corporation’s finances, but must also include an audit of the leadership of the stewardship of the leadership of NOCAL since its inception,” the committee said.
Meanwhile, the committee wants each member of the HTC who received bonus/honorarium after the ExxonMobil agreement was signed and payment made to the government of Liberia restitute the said amount to the Government of Liberia and reciept of such payment published in a recognized daily newspaper within 15 calendar days from the date that this report is made a matter of public record.
“Failure to make the restitution as recommended, the member (s) should be charged and prosecuted for receiving unlawful reward under section 12. 56 and 12.52 of our penal law,” the committee recommeded.
At the same time, Robert Sirleaf, Fred Bass Golokeh, Randolph McClain, Amara Konneh, Seward Cooper, Patrick Sendolo, Joseph Howe, Jacqueline Khoury and Idella Cooper-Shannon who were chairman and members of the board of NOCAL are recommeded by the committee to restitute the over half of million United States Dollar they received in bonuses or be prosecuted for misuse of public money under subchapter (F), ‘economic sabootage of the penal law of the country.
They are also recommended to be barred from ever serving on the board of any public corporation in the Republic of Liberia.
“That a legislation should be immediately proposed and passed making it illegal for any statutory member of Board of Directors of any public corporation to receive any prerequisite, emolument or benefit directly or indirectly on account of their service on the board or any other duty required of them by the government,” the committee recommended.
The committee’s report was sent to the plenary of the House of Representatives for revision. Following the reading in open plenary, Montserrado County electoral district eight Representative Moses Acarous Gray raised a motion that the committee’s reccomendations be accepted and communicate same to the president for onward actions as required,a motion overwhelmingly endorsed by majority members in session.