MONROVIA-Senator Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount has an uphill battle ahead of him again as he fights to exonerate himself from sanctions placed on him by the United States Treasury Department.
The Liberian lawyer was placed on economic sanctions in December 2020 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for his alleged involvement in a series of bribery and corruption correlated cases.
The decision was taken during the commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day in 2020. He was the only one named.
“On International Anti-Corruption Day, Treasury remains fully committed to imposing costs on those who facilitate corruption at the expense of the people,” said Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich.
Senator Sherman once told Legislative Reporters that the actions had damaged his reputation and businesses because majority of his clients have pulled out.
Since the action, Senators in the Liberian Legislature have been discussing how they can be of help to their colleague. Based on this, they set up a committee to do analysis of the allegation and report to the plenary of the Liberian Senate.
Following their submission, it was established that the sanctions placed on Senator Sherman has no bearing on the Liberian Senate and his position as Senator and chairman on the Judiciary Committee.
During the deliberations, majority of his colleagues in session said the actions against him came from his private life and shouldn’t be treated as if it derived from his role as senator of the Liberian Senate.
Others expressed sympathy that the accusations had damaged his business and his reputation, but said it has no bearing on the Liberian Senate or the judiciary committee or committees he is a member of.
A motion was filed by Senator Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County for the leadership of the Liberian Senate to engage the United States Embassy near Monrovia due to the gravity of the matter, through a diplomatic means for amicable resolution, but his request was quashed by his colleagues.
Senator Darius Dillon of Montserrado County said “We should handle this matter through silent diplomacy so it can not be seen like we are aiding and abetting Senator Sherman.”
“Nobody is saying that our colleague doesn’t have the right to be heard. I hope strongly that the leadership liaises with the Foreign Ministry and the executive to handle this issue. What our colleague is accused of is his private affairs. America doesn’t care how long we debate these issues. Let’s be careful before sentiment take over. Let’s stand firm and don’t draw the Liberian Senate in this matter,” Senator Dillon said.
Also speaking, Senator Conmany B. Wesseh of RiverGee said: “We should look at the rules of this house. We should be very careful. If I were advising Senator Sherman, I will tell him not to write this Senate.”
Senator Wesseh further said the explanation from the committee was good, but they talked with the wrong people.
“If you are a lawyer, go to him and aid him. There is nowhere in the allegations that accused the Liberian Senate. We are doing wrong to the Liberian Senate,” he said.
At the same time, Senator Daniel Naatehn of Gbarpolu County said; “There is no direct communication from the institution that accused Senator Sherman. We are just acting on ‘hear say, they say.”
For their part, Senators Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and Prince Yormie Johnson said; “This is a legal matter and it’s personal, it’s private. I don’t know what role we are going to play. We just need to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and play the diplomatic roles.”
“We should allow the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene. Other than that, we have no fish to fry in this matter,” said Senator Prince Johnson.
After deliberations, a decision was taken for the matter to be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to play diplomacy, but whether the urgency will be attached remains a matter of time.
However, Senator Teahjay maintained; “I think we are under obligation to constructively and diplomatically engage the United States Embassy to see how this matter is resolved.”