WASHINGTON/MONROVIA: The former Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara Mohammed Konneh, has reacted to assertions attributed to the Solicitor-General of Liberia (SG), Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, and Special Independent Prosecutor, Cllr. Arthur Johnson, that he (Amara), may be indicted for allegedly pocketing US$500m and L$1 billion in domestic debt payments.
“In their August 2, 2019 sensational press briefing held at MICAT and carried live on Facebook, Solicitor-General Syrenius Cephus and Special Prosecutor Arthur Johnson threatened me with an indictment for allegedly pocketing US$500 million and L$1 billion in domestic debt payments,” the former Finance and Development Planning Minister said.
According to Amara, one such payment which they emphasized and for which AIRRET claimed to have “solid evidence pointing to false payments” was to the estates of the late Phillip Z. Banks I and John Francis Marshall for an 8.11 acres land in Jorkpen Town, Sinkor, on which the Nancy B. Doe Jorkpen Town Market was built by the People’s Redemption Council (a military junta) in the 1982.
In a statement issued over the weekend, via his facebook page, Mr. Konneh indicated that the owners of the land claimed the military government forcibly took the land and didn’t pay them for it, a claim that has been documented as far back as 1992 when Mr. Francis Karpeh was Acting Minister of Finance.
He disclosed that twenty years later, the debt was settled. “Since it was outside of the KPMG audited debts in 2006 and 2008, the Office of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (EJS) negotiated the settlement with the Banks and Marshall Estates, led by former Legal Advisor Cllr. Seward B. Cooper. No one from MFDP was party to the negotiations,” Mr. Konneh further explained.
Giving the history and chronology of the settlement of that debt all of which he said are on file in the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) and the National Archives, he disclosed that in 1992 – 1994 letter from two former Ministers of Finance Francis Karpeh (February 5, 1992) and Wilson Tarpeh (September 2, 1994) was both addressed to the Administrator of the John Francis Marshall Estate, Mr. Edmond B. Coleman.
“The contents are very clear. There was no letter to or from the Banks Estate on file,” He added.
Konneh also disclosed that on May 30, 2011 a Letter from Cllr. Seward B. Cooper, former Legal Advisor to former President Sirleaf, asked former Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Mr. Roosevelt Jayjay, to conduct an investigative survey.
He further pointed out that on March 5, 2012: Survey Notice from the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy was issued and that in July 2012, the result of the survey established that the Nancy B. Doe Market was built on 8.10 lots, of which a) 2.84 lots belonged to the Banks Estate and b) 5.26 lots belonged to the Marshall Estate.
“No other parties came forth to claim any part of the 8.10 lots, Konneh stressed.
The former minister asserted he, on November 6, 2013, received a Letter from former president EJS, detailing negotiations her office held with the Banks and Marshall Estates and directing appropriate settlement.
Giving a Summary, he disclosed that the Banks family requested USD$585,000 while the John Marshall Estate requested USD$1,025,000.
He asserted that on February 15, 2016, the Debt Management Committee (DMC) set up in April 2010 to regulate public finance transactions, in keeping with Section 28 (4) of the Public Finance Management Act of 2009 and comprising MFDP, MoJ, CBL and MOS met and authorized the payments.
Providing a Summary of the resolution, he disclosed that due to fiscal constraints, a) pay the Banks Estate $300,000 in FY15/16; b) pay the Marshall Estate $300,000 in FY15/16; and c) final payment of $226,000 to the Marshall Estate in FY16/17.
He added: “Payments to the two estates were made during the tenure of my successor former Minister Boima Kamara after I resigned from GOL on April 30, 2016 and left Liberia to begin a new career. I’m told payments were made to Cllr. Banks’ sister for the Banks Estate and Mr. Edmond B. Coleman, Administrator for the Marshall Estate. GOL, I’m also told, did not get the deeds for the land and that MoJ had an active file for it.”
Konneh: “I commend AIRRET’s creativity in cooking up claims to justify their big budget $2.1 million politics witch-hunt. But they are at 0/3 for credible claims. The lesson for all well-meaning young Liberians who are interested in public service to do good and build successful careers after their service like I did is to follow rules and invest in proper record keeping. The best decision I’ve made was to invest in a small team that scanned copies of all my records including revenue and disbursement vouchers to spending entities and sent them to the Clouds for I knew this day would come. A simple phone call out of respect would have prevented the baseless sensationalism on Facebook, TV and Facebook. Bringing a man’s reputation to public disrepute under the pretext of politics is evil. I will not let my family and many friends down.” SOURCE: The Independent Newspaper, Liberia