As corruption ravages the Liberian economy with perpetrators moving around the corridor of power with impunity, latest report that a US$20M grant given to the Liberian Government in 2014 by the Japanese Government has been misapplied by some officials of the Liberian Government with nothing been heard of any disciplinary taken against those involved.
The fund which has reportedly being applied was provided by the Japanese government for a project entitled: “Institutional and Human Resource Support for Efficient Operation of the Department of International Economic Cooperation and Integration (IECI)” at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has disappeared in coffer of the Ministry.
In its report to the National Legislature, the General Auditing Commission (GAC) noted that several financial improprieties, thereby leading to the “Misapplication and swindling of US$20,195,625 of the Grants allegedly by some authorities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who were in charge of the management of the fund.
The project was approved on April 22, 2014, with an implementation plan of two years, the audit covered the period, June 2014 to October 2015. According to the GAC audit report, Mr. Elias Shoniyin, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also served as Deputy Minister for IECI Department during the management of the Grant; and Thomas Kaydor, a short-term former Deputy Minister for IECI Department were in charge of the management of the fund.
The GAC audit report further indicated that the IECI Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was responsible for the IECI Human and Capacity Building Project.”
The primary purpose of the project was to hire, retain and train professional staff with the necessary skills to increase efficiency within the IECI Department.
Appearing last Friday during a hearing conducted by the Joint Public Accounts Committees of the Legislature on the GAC report, Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara; Elias Shoniyin, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Thomas Kaydor former Deputy Minister for IECI Department admitted that the intent of the grant was not met.
For his part, Deputy Minister Shoniyin told the Committee that 50% of the project goal was achieved, and further admitted at the hearing that US$20m was misapplied, something which, according to him, served as a hindrance to the full implementation of the project.
The then Deputy Minister for IECI Department said the manager of the project at the time, Augustine Nyanplu, who is currently out of the country denied the allegation, and others at the bank were involved in unauthorized withdraws, leading to the misapplication of the amount in question.
Also in response to questions from members of the Legislative Committees, Minister Kamara (Not link to the alleged misapplication of the Japanese Fund) said the project was implemented by 30% and not 50% as was mentioned earlier by Deputy Minister Shoniyin.
In its report, the GAC further said it has also uncovered that the IECI Project Management made payments for various transactions, amounting to L$21,394,360 without adequate supporting documents to substantiate the integrity of the transactions, and also noted that payments without adequate supporting documentation could cast doubts on the regularity of the transactions and undermines public sctor accountability and transparency.
It can be recalled that following the discovering of the scandal, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf called for a “Full scale investigation, and at the same time mandated the GAC to expeditiously conduct a comprehensive forensic audit of the finances of the project. She also authorized the Ministry of Justice to continue its investigation into the implementation of the project in collaboration with the GAC and relevant institutions with the view to identifying and subsequently prosecuting those who may be found culpable for any improprieties.
The President also dismissed the Deputy Minister at the time, Thomas Kaydor, for his alleged role in the mismanagement of the Japanese fund.
Some Liberians who spoke to the GNN yesterday expressed fear that before the end of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s term, Liberia will be engulf with financial deficit, a situation they noted is worrisome.