As Probe Of ‘Missing L$16 Billion Ongoing, Bribery Linking Senior Officials In Gov’t Takes Center Stage

Huge Liberian Dollars Bank Note

Another surprise has hit the Liberian people in the wake of a hunt for missing sixteen billion Liberian dollars which has allegedly vanished in thin air and its whereabouts is still unknown, last week the Managing Director of the National Housing Authority (NHA), Duanah Siryon and his Deputy Tugbe C. Tugbe were arrested by state security including the Liberia National Police and the National Security Agency on their alleged involvement in bribery.

Following their arrest by state securities, Criminal Court ‘A’ at the Temple of Justice issued a writ of Ne Exeat Republica on the two NHA officials and Augustine Weah, representative of GELPAZ Construction in Liberia for allegedly soliciting bribes.

The write was issued based on a petition filed by the Ministry of Justice barring both officials of the NHA from leaving the Country pending the conclusion of an ongoing investigation into a bribery scandal.

The travel ban was issued after both men were reportedly attempting to the leave the Country. “The Ministry of Justice wishes to emphasize that the solicitation, offer or accepting of anything of value as consideration for the rendition of public service constitutes bribery, a felonious offence punishable under sub-chapter ‘D’ Section 12.50 of the Penal Law of Liberia. In this connection, the Ministry of Justice affirms that the ongoing investigation into conduct of  Siryon and Tugbe,” the Justice Ministry statement said.

The Justice Ministry statement further noted, “The two officials along with Mr. Augustine Weah, purported representative of GELPAZ, a company interested in the construction of 5,000 low housing units, are reported heard of tape discussing the solicitation of bribe in the name of public officials for the performance of their officials’ duties,” the Justice Ministry statement said.

It can be recalled that NHA boss Siryon was last Friday arrested by the police and the National Security Agency following media report of a leaked tape in which he was heard soliciting bribes from a Burkinabe construction firm.

In the recording, the representative of GELPAZ in Liberia, Augustine Weah who is also the Vice President of the Company alleged that NHA Managing Director, Mr. Duanah Siryon had requested a kickback in the tone of US$160,000 for his entity, the NHA, US$100,000 for Justice Minister; Musa Dean, US$100,000 for Nathaniel McGill; Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and US$100,000 for Samuel Tweah; Minister of Finance, Planning and Development before the contract can be consummated.

According to Mr. Weah, he negotiated with Siryon that his Company, GELPAZ did not have the money being requested on hand but had made some transfer via LBDI Bank, and could produce US$80,000 to be split between Minister McGill and his team and the NHA.

“After the US$80,000 was presented Siryon, he told me I will give you US$20,000 to keep and I will take the US$60,000 to McGill to disburse,” Weah is heard saying on the leaked audio.

Weah further alleged that the NHA boss requested and was offered a percentage in the construction, but pleaded that such be kept as secret between both of them from his principle deputies.

With this latest bribery case which has gone virus with everyone talking about it on local radio stations and in street  corners, some Liberians who spoke to the GNN are expressing concern about the previous issue of the missing billions which whereabouts is still unknown, and are concluding that this latest bribery case may surpass the issue of the missing money.

About Cholo Brooks 14593 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.