Over US$5 Billion ‘Secret Deal’ Exposed, Tweah, Wolokollie Linked – Media Report

According to a local daily, The Heritage quoting a leaked communication from the office of the Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs at the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning(MFDP), Samora P.Z. Wolokollie, has revealed how he (Deputy Minister Wolokollie), on behalf of the Minister of MFDP, Mr. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. and the Government of Liberia(GoL), formally wrote to confirm and reaffirm “our interest in re-negotiating securing a Grant valued at US$5,700,000,000 (Five Billion Seven Hundred Million United States Dollars) from Manna Holding Trust.”

According to the leaked communication dated November 23,2018 and addressed to Steve Lipman, Manna World Holding Trust, a copy of which is in possession of this paper, Deputy Minister Wolokollie explained: “This letter is our confirmation that I have received authorization from the Honorable Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Hon. Samuel D. Teah, Jr. that we are willing and capable to receive and disburse funds on an IP Sever to IP server special swift transfer basis through the Central Bank of Liberia. I confirm that I have consulted with our Finance Minister, our President and we have collectively reached a consensus to facilitate the above referenced transaction, provided that the procedure to accessing this fund is clearly laid out.”

The deputy finance minister in his letter continued: “ It is our understanding that finance will be available for strategic national projects, as we prepare to receive the funds in trenches as agreed by all parties to this Grant Facility.”

“We look forward to working with you on this as we seek further guidance on the details of the fund availability through a Grant Facility,” Deputy Minister Wolokollie concluded in his letter to Steve Lipman.

The Manna World Holding Trust to Liberia is a company that holds Liberia’s development and road construction fund. It was gathered that Deputy Minister Wolokollie’s letter was in response to an earlier communication reportedly sent to authorities of the MFDP concerning the controversial deal.

However, a million dollar question on the lips of some key observers is that what would Minister Tweah and Deputy Minister Wolokollie write formally to re-negotiate secure a Grant valued at US$5,700,000,000 (Five Billion Seven Hundred Million United States Dollars) from Manna Holding Trust supposedly behind the scene without the involvement of other key state actors, including members of the Legislature, thus raising serious eyebrows, with the observers terming the re-negotiation of the deal as “bogus” and intended to enrich a few at the detriment of the struggling Liberian masses.

“The whole discussion between authorities of the MFDP and Steve Lipman concerning the over US$5 billion deal was done behind the scene, making a secret as other key state actors were not in the know least to mention the public,” asserted one of the observers.

When Deputy Minister Wolokollie was contacted by journalists concerning the matter, he declined to comment. For his boss, Minister Tweah could not reached for comment up to press time.

Weeks following Deputy Minister Wolokollie.s letter to Steve Lipman, one James Larmin Korboi, a Sierra Leonean national, who was said to have held a series of confidential discussions with authorities of both the ministries of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and State for Presidential Affairs (MSFA) that led to his alleged attempt to withdraw US$32,835,654.14 from the account of the Manna World Holding Trust Funds to Liberia, was remanded in custody at the Monrovia Central Prison on December 17, 2018.

A document obtained from the Monrovia City Court about the Trust Fund claimed that it had in its possession over US$5.91 billion for road construction and development initiatives in the country.

It was out of that money that Korboi allegedly conspired with several other defendants to dupe the government of US$32,835,654.14. However, the document failed to give further details and ownership of Manna World Holding Trust.

Instead, it alleged that Korboi, shortly after he failed to convince the ministries to withdraw US$32, 835,654.14, with wicked and criminal intent organized several discussions, this time with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, to withdraw US$5.91 billion from Manna World Holding Trust, following which police arrested him.

Court records claimed that the Liberia National Police(LNP) arrested Korboi on December 5, 2018, at the offices of Minister Tweah where he had gone to hold a meeting with the minister.

It was not disclosed as to what prompted Korboi’s arrest, but details from the court’s record said Korboi had earlier introduced himself as an executive of Maga Strategic Partners Limited, a construction company, to senior staffs of both ministries. He said he had come to the country with an unspecified amount of money to help support President George Weah’s Pro-poor Agenda, especially in the areas of road construction and other development initiatives.

It was due to an alleged introduction of his company’s intent to invest in the country that afforded him the opportunity to hold discussions with senior staffs at the two ministries.

Despite holding discussions with both ministries, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), according to the document, claimed that Maga Strategic Partners Limited did not exist. As such, it was a “bogus construction company.”

Korboi was sent to the Monrovia Central Prison shortly after he appeared in court for the first time because he could not afford a bond. However, his crimes, which included criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation, impersonation of officials, forgery and attempted theft of property, qualify him (Korboi) for a bail.

It was also reported that in early 2018, Korboi conspired with his cohorts to defraud the Liberian government of US$32,835,654.14 intended for road construction and development initiative.

The record claimed that out of deception, Korboi allegedly manipulated the system through electronic means and requested 13 transactions of transfer amounting to US$32,835,654.14 from several accounts belonging to the government and which were placed in local banking institutions outside of the country.

“The defendant criminally attempted to deprive the country of that money but was aborted,” the court records noted on the first attempt by Korboi to allegedly withdraw from the Road Construction Trust Funds, the paper in its ‘Leak document’, noted.

Source: The Heritage Newspaper

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About Cholo Brooks 10293 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.