The Deputy Minister designate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Elias Shoniyin has sharply reacted to media reports, linking him to the misused of the much publicized ‘Japanese Grants’ in the amount of US$731,412.00 which was given to the Liberian Government in 2014 for the sole purpose of building the country’s institutional capacity of the department of International Economic Cooperation and Integration (IECI) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As the news of Minister Shoniyin involvement in the misapplication of the funds overwhelmed Liberians from all sectors, GNN staff took up time to contact the Minister as to what really took place during the activities of the Committee which was given the responsibility to expand the grant.
Speaking to the GNN-Liberia Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at his Foreign office, Mr. Shoniyin expressed thanks and appreciation to our staff for reaching him to get his side of the story linking him to his alleged involvement in the misapplication of the Japanese Grants as he displayed several documents, including recommendations from the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the General Auditing Commission, noting that he was exonerated for any wrong doing by these anti-graft institutions.
The amount of USD $731,412.00 was provided for a two years project on the capacity building project, according to information in June 2014, half of the money was transferred from Central Bank to Afriland Bank under the watchful eyes Thomas Kaydor and Augustine Nyanplu.
Several reports on the Japanese fund fraud at the Foreign Ministry were reviewed including the report of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Accounts, Expenditure and Audit; report of the Ministry of Justice; and the audit report of the General Auditing Commission (GAC). None of these reports points to any financial crime attributed to the action of Mr. Shoniyin. Infact, the GAC report listed all questionable transactions of the projects and and the names of the persons who authorized the transactions and the payee, and Mr. Shoniyin name is not mentioned anywhere on the list. This revelation triggers very disturbing questions, particularly after the widespread allegations against Mr. Shoniyin. What were there real motivations behind these allegations? Were there ulterior motives to blackmail? As we dig deeper into relevant documentations around this saga, these answers may be found and the truth brought to light.
Following our interview with Mr. Shoniyin and the display of attendant documentations and reports on the Japanese fund fraud at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2014, our staff seem to be discovering a syndicated blackmail scam on his reputation. Should this suspicion be confirmed, if will be an unfortunate assault on the national fight against corruption and an undermine to President George Weah’s early effort. Probity should stand in the way of blackmail to shield outstanding and integral public officials from those with whom they may have personal differences.
He explained to our staff that 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, and noted that 50% of the project goal was achieved, and further disclosed that Thomas Kaydor, a short-term former Deputy Minister for IECI Department and Augustine Nyanplu, Manager of the project were in charge of the management of the fund, and denied of being a part of its misapplication.
During the interview with Minister Shoniyin bank slips were displayed to our reporter, it was further observed that bulk of the withdrawals were made by both Kaydor and Nyanplu without the knowledge of him (Shoniyin), this was also made known by one of the committees that the amount of L$21,394,360 was disbursed without adequate supporting documents to substantiate the integrity of the transactions.
Speaking further, Minister Shoniyin publicly denied any involvement in the syndicate to dupe the Liberian Government, and noted that all of the probes that were conducted by both the GAC and the Ministry of Justice cleared him of any wrongdoing in the process of the disbursement of the grant, with one of the committees which investigated the issue noted, “Minister Shoniyin failed to put in place a monitoring and supervisory mechanism to ensure to effective implementation of the project consistent with best administrative practices,” one of the committees that probed the case noted.
For Thomas Kaydor, the Committee said, “Hon. Thomas Kaydor was also grossly negligent. While it is true that the developed guidelines for the implementation of the project when he took over, he failed to have to have the provision thereof fully implemented especially as it relate to the usage of the Ministry Internal Control Processors. Through his lack of supervision, Mr. Nyanplu continued to engage in further fraudulent transactions which brought a loss to the project. He ignored red flag in the project such as the bounced checks which if investigated promptly could have prevented further loss, he also failed to put in place a monitoring and supervisory mechanism to ensure the effective implementation of the project consistent with best administrative practices after he took over,” the committee which probed that case stressed.
On the role of Augustine Nyanplu in the scandal, the Committee in its findings said, “Mr. Nyanplu’s conduct in the management of the project, as Project Manager, is beyond redemption. His conduct according to the audit report resulted in the theft of LD$19,079,815.00 or US$227,140.65. He also engaged in criminal acts including forged letters to the bank requesting for overdraft facilities. There being no evidence that he acted in collusion with others at the Ministry, he bears criminal responsibility for the fraud,” the committee in its findings noted.
With these findings, Minister Shoniyin during the interview bragged that his hands are clean, a situation he said made President George Weah to appoint him as Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “If I was guilty of such, I don’t think President Weah would have name me in his government,” Minister Shoniyin with glaring smile told the GNN.
Our investigation continue