LIBERIA: Criminal Court Returns Haddad’s US$1.3 million Bail

Lebanese businessman, George Haddad

After withdrawing the government’s criminal charges against George Haddad, a prominent Lebanese businessman, Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice on Monday on March 1 returned the over US$1.3 million bail filed that prevented Haddad from being imprisoned.

The decision by Judge Blamo Dixon comes during Monday’s hearing of a letter from Cllr. Edward K. Martin, Montserrado County Attorney requesting the court to do so, though Cllr. Martin failed to deliberate further about the government’s abrupt action.

Rather, Cllr. Martin in open court said, their communication to the court was just to nolle prosequi the case against Haddad and his co-defendants including Prof. Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson, a former presidential candidate.

Shortly afterward, Haddad, who was the only defendant to show up throughout the short trial told judicial reporters that he would not allow anybody to tarnish his over 30 years residence status in Liberia. “I am going to consult with my lawyers to see what next to be done,” Haddad, who appeared very upset, said. He promised that within few days, he would be providing details about the truthfulness of the transaction.

“I will explain everything regarding who is involved with the matter,” Haddad declared.

Recently, Prof. Mayson in an interview with journalist Alexander Bealded, laid bare his innocence, stating that he had invested about $250,000 United States Dollars in the deal to import a consignment of rice into the country. The deal went sour when their warehouse which had been borrowed by the then President Ellen Sirleaf to house some goods for the Group of 77 was not turned over to them as per the agreement struck with the President.

The Company supplying the rice declared that Prof. Mayson and co-defendants were in breach of the contract. The Suppliers cashed the LC. The only recourse left to the Prof. and his colleagues was to pursue arbitration in London — a course of action which seems to still be opened to them.

When questioned as to why one of the partners, Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, would join Government in a suit against them, Prof. Mayson stated that he, like Dr. Ogunbiyi, was an “absentee investor”, both of them being resident in Nigeria. So there are various questions Dr. Ogunbiyi may want answered, which Mr. Haddad being the one on the ground, is best suited to answer.

The claim against Haddad, Mayson and others was filed by Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, a Nigerian investor and group chairman of CIL Risk & Asset Management Limited (CRAM), a Nigerian Investment and fund management company.

CRAM is an associate company of Mutual Benefits Assurance PLC, the parent company of Mutual Benefits Assurance Company Liberia that entered into the contract with DAS Holding Inc.

Ogunbiyi had initially claimed that he transferred US$253,100 through Ecobank Liberia Limited to DAS Holding Inc jointly owned by Haddad and Prof. Dew Tuan Wleh Mayson, which money was intended for DAS Holding Inc to purchase and sell rice, sugar and cement on the Liberian market.

And the proceeds that the government claimed amounted to US$891,641.57 with the deduction of CRAM’s initial investment of US$253,100, while the remaining amount would have been distributed between DAS Holding Inc and CRAM at an agreed percentage rate of 65 for CRAM and 65 percent to DAS Holding Inc, which the government is alleging that DAS sold the commondities and misapplied its proceeds including the loan investment.

The case grew between 2008 and 2019 when CRAM entered into the loan agreement with DAS Holding Inc owned by Haddad and Mayson, which CRAM’s Group Chairman, Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, a Nigerian national, is opting for restitution and other legal fees.

Defendant Haddad, who was the only person to have been arraigned before the court, admitted to the contract but said it was the government that confiscated the commodities and subsequently sold them is withholding the proceeds and the loan investment, an accusation the government was expected to resist.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between CRAM and DAS reached the court after CRAM claimed that DAS failed to make full disclosure as to the profit generated from an investment of US$200,000 and refund of the additional operational expense by CRAM.

CRAM claimed that on June 3, 2008, they entered into a Memorandum of Understanding MoU between DAS for DAS to secure the contract to supply the commodities that include (rice, sugar cement among other) on the local market.

They agreed that fund to realize from the sale of the commodities should have been disbursed on the following basis: Repayment of cost of goods and loans to CRAM, disbursement of expenses account, and distribution of profits between DAS and CRAM at the percentage rate of 65percent and 35percent reprehensively.

And, it was based upon the agreement that CRAM made available to DAS Holding Inc the amount of US$253,100 representing the following: US$200,000 as advance payment on July 1,2008 through the management of Mutual Benefits Assurance Company Liberia at Ecobank Liberia Limited under the captioned ,’Collapse of time Deposit Investment.’

Later, CRAM claimed that for them to import the first consignment of cement to Liberia as was agreed upon, CRAM incurred additional expenses totaling Naira 12 million or its equivalent of US$53,100.

The court records claim that DAS failed to account for the amount from July 1, 2008 to January 31,2021, and a 10 percent per annum was accrued, totaling US$638,541.57, thus making the total of US$891,641.57.

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