MONROVIA-President George M. Weah’s suspended Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Office Staff, Nathaniel McGill, continues to plead his innocence about the charges levied against him by the United States Treasury Department, but also maintains that the United States Government is being misinformed by wrong intel that they might have been gotten against him.
“One thing you have to also know is that a lot criminally-minded people have used my name and position before to engage in corrupt practices, extortion of money from people, while some people make calls around purporting to be me and swindling money from unsuspecting characters who are not only stealing from the people but are bent on tarnishing my reputation. Just go on Facebook, it is all over the place, people are using fake identities, fake names as Hon. McGill to deceive people. Some of them were arrested before and turned over to the security agencies for prosecution”, McGill said, noting that has been a victim of identity theft, a situation that caused serious embarrassment to him by unscrupulous individuals who used fake identities to extort money from unsuspecting people.
Mr. McGill made the assertion when he granted an interview to a team of journalists from the Qatar-based Aljazeera Media Group over the weekend with respect to the action taken by the United States Department of Treasury based on the 2022 report of the Magnitsky Acts which also affected the Solicitor General of Liberia, Cllr. Saymah Syrenious Cephus; and the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Bill Tweahway.
In his consistent denial against his designation and sanction placed on him by the United States Treasury Department, the suspended Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Nathaniel Farlo McGill has said he has every reason to believe that the Americans do not hate him but must have been misinformed into believing the wrong information some other people might have told them for which he was designated and sanctioned for alleged acts of corruption without he being given an opportunity to state his side of the story.
“They may be investigating something genuine about corruption in Liberia but somebody must have told them something or misled them into believing whatever that must have led to the sanctions. I just believe someone must have told them the information which is not true but I don’t think the Americans hate me. I am just sure that they must have genuinely intended to find the source of corruption in the country but somebody must have told them the wrong information”, Mr. McGill said.
When asked how he saw the sanction placed on him and two of his other compatriots, McGill who noted that it is not being taken lightly and that it has an enormous weight, however said he will not say much for now as he has written to President George Manneh Weah to make his response known. He said he is intending to pursue it through the legal process so as to seize the opportunity to be heard, and believes the United States, which he described as the greatest democracy in the world and a firm believer in human rights and justice, will give him the opportunity to defend himself.
When asked whether it is true that corruption is being practiced at high places in Liberia, McGill said he could not categorically state that corruption exists in Liberia, but acknowledged that corruption being a worldwide scourge, it would be an understatement if he says that there is no corruption in Liberia and that he at the same time, will say there exists corruption in the country if he has not been able to establish the fact.
“If I say there is corruption, have I established that? What is my evidence? Yes, people may be corrupt but the laws in Liberia say you have to bring evidence against the individual. So, there are individuals that have been investigated or are being investigated but I am not the Minister of Justice to lead the legal process to know who is guilty or not. The whole world, the whole of Africa, it is just difficult to say that nobody is corrupt, that will be an understatement”, he said.
The suspended Minister of State furthered that it is imperative that he goes through the due process to clear his good name and reputation he has built over the years, and that with reference to the allegation that he has been soliciting money from business people with the desire to get a kickback, McGill said, “there is no business man in this country who can say I have asked them for money as kickback for me to influence anything in government be it for contract or special privilege.
In response to the question what would be the rationale for the US Department of Treasury to indict him of corrupt acts, McGill said it is something he could not fathom, and that no one from any institution of the United States has ever asked him or probed him about corrupt practices or any negative thing since he became the Minister of State for Presidential affairs.
He said though the US Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy has been consistent about the issue of corruption in the country, which has been a generic and a broad perspective of what the Ambassador felt about corruption in the country, yet there has never been a time where the Ambassador or any member of the US government ever queried or confronted him about being involved in acts of corruption.
He maintained strongly that he is not a target of the US Department of Treasury and he sees no reason for ever believing it, adding that “those who had the genuine reason to conduct an investigation about corruption must have unfortunately been misled by others who did not have any evidence or facts to prove their allegation against me. So, we cannot say we are being targeted by the American government”, he said.
McGill, who told the journalists that the implication of the sanction on him was that it destroyed his good reputation and name he has built over the years, said that he looks forward to any process that will give him the opportunity to state his case and exonerate himself from the allegations so as to restore the honest status he has had over the years.
“I am awaiting God’s intervention. My lawyers are working on it. You see, I don’t blame the Americans. I don’t think the Americans hate me but I think somebody misled them. This is an investigation, someone told them the story.
“They never met me. I didn’t have the opportunity to defend myself on these things. I just heard about everything on the news. So, it came as a surprise and I still maintain my innocence”, he said.
McGill also dismissed the insinuation that there is a culture of silence and fear in the minds of civil society organizations or individuals about expressing their opinion about corruption in the country.
“No, Liberia is so free and you can talk or say anything about the government, about corruption and nothing will happen to you. People abuse the President and nothing happens to them. Since you came to the country, has anyone threatened you? Do you see the army or any of our security personnel in the streets with guns? Liberia is the only country in the sub-region where you go and you will not find any security personnel with guns in the streets. It tells you the extent that there is tolerance for people to say anything they wish to say, including anything about corruption,” the suspended Minister of State stated emphatically.