Liberians were rudely awakened by news that the Liberia’s Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) had released a report accusing officials at the National Port Authority (NPA) of fraud. This news spread like wild fire within minutes. But few days later, the Chairperson of the LACC, James Verdier came ranting at the report claiming he has no knowledge of the information being published by FrontPage Africa regarding allegation of corruption involving suspended NPA officials: Managing Director Madam Matilda Parker and Christiana Pealay.
“That report is not from the LACC. We have not released any report on the NPA,” Cllr. Verdier told journalists at the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism (MICAT) weekly press briefing. The LACC boss’ comment drew ire from many person pundits.
Again on state radio ELBC, the LACC chairman whom anti graft campaigners had thought would bring sanctity to the institution, somersaulted on his earlier statement. He said “we do not disown the report in its entirety but the manner in which this news outlet obtained it. Besides, there are discrepancies in the figure and findings. As I speak, we are conducting an in-house investigation to ascertain how the information got to the press and that FrontPage would be called for questioning.”
However, in what many people see as shameful save facing, Cllr. Verdier has warned the public and the Liberian media to refrain from passing guilty judgment against individuals who are being accused of acts of corruption until they are proven guilty by a court.
He said the LACC is investigating the FPA’s version of the report against the NPA.
The LACC boss also said the act of shielding alleged corrupt individuals coupled with interferences are major challenges facing the commission. He however failed to call the names of those who are being shield or who is shielding them.
In view of this, Political analysts have opined that an integrity institution like LACC should be consistent in its utterances on issues that impeach on credible people’s characters.
“The flip-flopping trend the LACC is taking puts it in a tight-corner of wearing a political garment. We have information that all those who are being heralded as important players in resuscitating our broken system through their diligence to national duties will be soft targets for political gimmicks,” an insider at the LACC hinted.
What is more mindboggling is that the Publisher of FrontPage Africa, Rodney Sieh disclosed on a popular radio talkshow “The Costa Show” that the anti graft chief once engaged him to help the LACC in exposing individuals perceived to be corrupt.
With this revelation from Mr. Sieh regarding having secret meeting with authorities at the LACC, independent minds will argue that Cllr. Verdier and his LACC had blacklisted several prominent officials of the Unity Party led Government as a soft-targets to score political points.
In the case of the so-called LACC Final Report that is being published by Font Page Africa, it was alleged that the wreck contract executed by the whistleblower (Deneah Martin Flomo) was consummated in 2011 respectively. The whistleblower (Deneah Martin Flomo) claims that on July 30, 2011 (or thereabouts), he cashed a check and give the Comptroller $250,000 USD, and she in turn give him $3,000 USD. Are we supposed to believe that this whistleblower (Deneah Martin Flomo) waited four years to report this misfortune? Or are the rumors accurate that the whistleblower (Deneah Martin Flomo) is the brother of the former Senator who has requested to go to the Port as MD, and this is a mere smear campaign?
From the report, the whistleblower / contractor (Deneah Martin Flomo) walked into the LACC unsolicited. Did anyone confirm that this man was indeed the contractor? Could he be a planted political pundit?
One of the key findings of the so-called LACC Final Report states “That the person Deneah Martin Flomo, contracted for the removal of wrecks from the Port of Greenville by the Management of NPA headed by Madam Matilda Wokie Parker was not a legally registered business entity in accordance with Chapter 4 of Title 14 of the General Business Laws of the Republic of Liberia during the period, July 30, 2011 – January 29, 2012 when the contract was award.” Within the same report on page 2 its says, that “the Management of the NPA submitted the Articles of Incorporation and Certificate of Business Registration” which was effective February 24, 2011. Additionally, Page 1: Paragraph 1 of the contract for the removal of wrecks was issue to a Wreck Removal Firm represented by Deneah Martin Flomo.
Another finding in the LACC Final Report states “That Madam Matilda Wokie Parker, Christina Paelay and Hon Morris M. Dukuly signed the MOU with Deneah Martin Flomo Group of Companies to remove wrecks from the Port of Greenville when it was neither accredited nor licensed by the Liberia Maritime Authority as a Domestic Maritime Entity which is a necessary precondition to perform marine related duties within the maritime domain of Liberia.” Clearly the LACC must not be familiar with the Act establishing the National Port Authority, which dates 1971, and predates the LiMA Act. Page 276 of the NPA Act allows the entity to engage in the removal of wrecks with no stated preconditions. Additionally, the Article III Point 6 of the Articles of Incorporation for the DMF Group of Companies, which was approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allows the company to dispose of properties and other assets tangible and intangible within and without the bailiwick of Liberia.
The LACC report claims that the contracts in question were bugus, and no performance reports were submitted. Our office has been able to gain possession of all of the performance, diver and pre-dredging survey reports and performance bonds submitted to the LACC. We wonder why LACC would select to ignore such key evidence in a criminal investigation case, expect there are malice intentions.
The So-called LACC Report claims that the NPA broke the PFM Law by not deducting 10% from the contractor as taxes. Clearly, the LACC did not research adequately enough to know that the deduction of the 10% is not in the PFM Law, but instead it is in the Revenue code of Liberia.
Written By: Magnus Sackie