One of the three U.S. Treasury Department sanctions designated senior officials of the Liberian Government, Nathaniel F. McGill has summersaulted on receiving kickbacks before awarding contracts to several companies.
The suspended Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff to President George Weah in the report is said to have received kickbacks for steering contract, this further. It can be recalled that the U.S. Treasury Department recently sanctioned Mr. McGill and Mr. Twehway for their alleged involvement in public corruption.
In a communication addressed to the Liberian President recently following the imposition of sanctions on him and two others, the suspended Minister however, in his own defense, said, “I do not preside over contract negotiations, nor do I sign contracts, and so where will the kickbacks come from?
“Those who may have provided wrong information to the members of the Treasury Department investigators who were seeking to gather accurate and genuine allegations of corruption, abuse, waste, and mismanagement of public funds in the fight against corruption, unfortunately, provided the wrong and false information. For full disclosure, Mr. President, my only involvement with contract discussions is the current ongoing impasse between and amongst AML, HPX, and the SOLWAY issue.”
To enable us to continue to advance discussions with the Liberian Government, HPX seeks clarification on who is authorised to discuss these matters further from the Government in light of recent news of three Liberian Government Officials being sanctioned on 15 August 2022 by the US Government. Specifically:
- Where HPX previously dealt with Nathaniel McGill, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Chief of Staff to President George Weah, who should HPX communicate with going forward?
- Where HPX had previously dealt with Bill Twehway in his capacity as Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), or more generally on matters related to the NPA, who should HPX communicate with going forward?
HPX is a privately-owned, U.S.-domiciled mineral exploration and development company while SMFG is a Guinean-incorporated mining company. SMFG is an 85% owned subsidiary of High Power Exploration (HPX).
The company is opting to export its iron ore from Guinea through Liberia using the railway infrastructure from Nimba to the Port of Buchanan.
According to a local daily, FPA in its report indicated that it has obtained a communication written by the president and CEO of HPX, Eric Finlayson, addressed to the Minister of Justice seeking clarity on who they should continue communicating with as it relates to the negotiations on the multi-user agreement between the Government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal Liberia.
For Twehway, he is said to be orchestrated the diversion of US$1.5 million in vessel storage fee funds from the NPA into a private account. Twehway secretly formed a private company to which, through his position at the NPA, he later unilaterally awarded a contract for loading and unloading cargo at the Port of Buchanan. The contract was awarded to the company less than a month after its founding. Twehway and others used family members to obfuscate their own involvement in the company while still benefitting financially from the company.
See below Is Minister McGill’s Letter To President Weah
18 August, 2022
I have the honor, most respectfully, to present my compliments and to congratulate you for Your Excellency’s exceptional statesmanship in steering the affairs of this nation in these trying times of our national existence.
Excellency, let me commend you for your unwavering determination to fight waste, abuse and the mismanagement of public resources which was a solemn pledge you made at Your Excellency’s inauguration, and for the swift and decisive action taken thus far, in ordering my immediate suspension and others named in the United States Treasury Department report for alleged corruption to face investigation.
Excellency, the United States Treasury Department report contains several criminal mischaracterizations of my person, name and character as Your Excellency’s Minister of State, as in keeping with the Executive Law of Liberia, and given that the allegations range from bribing business owners, receiving bribes from potential investors, and accepting kickbacks for steering contracts to companies, and or manipulating or manipulated public procurement processes in order to award multi-million dollar contracts to companies in which I have ownership, including by abusing emergency procurement processes to rig contract bids, among others, I humbly welcome Your Excellency pronouncement to set up an investigative committee to probe into these grave allegations to afford me the opportunity to have my “day in court” as in keeping with the principle of due process. These allegations are crimes also under Liberian law and must be investigated consistent with law controlling.
Excellency, please allow me to provide you brief analyses and clarifications of some of the allegations: that I have been accused of:
Bribed business owners, received bribes from potential investors, and accepted kickbacks for steering contracts to companies in which he has an interest:
Response: a. Bribed business owners— To what end, and for what purpose, and in in whose interest? One who bribes business owners must have an objective to achieve something in his own interest, but in this case, no interest is defined, and no reason is provided.
Receiving bribes from potential investors—What are the names of the investors? And who are the investors? I have at no time ever received bribes from any investors.
Kickbacks for steering contracts— I do not preside over contract negotiations, nor do I sign contracts, and so where will the kickbacks come from?
Those who may have provided wrong information to the members of the Treasury Department investigators who were seeking to gather accurate and genuine allegations of corruption, abuse, waste and mismanagement of public funds in the fight against corruption unfortunately provided the wrong and false information.
For full disclosure Mr. President, my only involvement with contract discussions is the current ongoing impasse between and amongst AML, HPX and the SOLWAY issueManipulated public procurement processes in order to award multi-million dollar contracts to companies in which he has ownership, including by abusing emergency procurement processes to rig contract bids.
Response: Under this count, while I have not seen any evidence today, the multi-million dollar contract that I am aware of, since the ascendancy of this government is the US$116millon dollars RIA Road Contract to East International.
As you are aware Mr. President, this matter was presented to the cabinet in 2019 by then Public Works Minister, Mobutu Nyanpan that the RIA Road project would cost US$116M and that cabinet should approve the borrowing of said amount.
It was then the decision of the cabinet that due to Liberia’s huge debt burden said amount was too huge for the government to borrow at the time.
Therefore, the cabinet decision was that since Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government had granted East International a concession of US$56, 432Million (plus) agreement ratified by the legislature for the construction of feudal roads in Liberia before your ascendancy, said agreement should be presented to the legislature for amendment so that instead of borrowing US$116m, the government will now borrow US$56, 432Million (plus) for the RIA road project.
My ownerships in East International as alleged is false and misleading because East International was in existence around 2011 and granted road contracts under the Unity Party Government, one of which was the US59,567,010.9 Million contract.
I do not see how the Unity Party government would have granted a US59, 567,010.9 Million contract to a company with an ownership of the sitting chairman of the CDC.
Also the Unity Party government granted the following contracts to East International prior to the ascendancy of the CDC lead administration.
Also, in January 2017 the Unity Party Government awarded East International was awarded US$19, 900, 005 million under the signature of Gyude Moore. The total contract granted East International by the Unity Party government is US$ 79,467,015.9 million.
Instead of accusing the Unity Party people of creating and owning East International, I am been accused as it owner.
Accused of involvement in a wide range of other corrupt schemes including soliciting bribes from government office seekers and misappropriating government assets for his personal gain.
Response: While these allegations are broad and require specificity, it is the fact of public records both in the media that criminal individuals have been using my name without my knowledge to get money from people seeking public office.
Used government funds allocated to other Liberian government institutions to run his own projects, made off-the-books payments in cash to senior government leaders, and organized warlords to threaten political rivals;
Response: Apart from asking public and private institutions to support the cause of poor and underprivileged Liberian high school students, I do not run private projects. For the records, all monies donated to public High School students are deposited in the school accounts for the specific counties to which I am not a signatory and counties that have benefited thus far are Bong, Margibi, Nima and Grand Bassa. Unfortunately, we are yet to raise all of the monies that have been pledged to these counties for student projects.I would highly appreciate the senior government officials to come forth with the evidence. And since these are senior government officials, I would be glad to face them. In the case of politicians being attacked by some individuals I have no idea. I am a friend to all of the political leaders and none has personally complained to me about being attacked.
Received an unjustified stipend from various Liberian government institutions and used his position to prevent his misappropriation from being discovered.
Response: Again, these allegations are broad, but for the records, I deny and reject them because I do not receive stipends from other government agencies as doing so would greatly erode my stature and authority as the ‘ Principal Assistant to the President and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs. Because doing so I would be involved in corruption with them.Regularly distributes thousands of dollars in undocumented cash to other government officials for government and non-government activities;
Response: I hereby incorporate the averments of my response in count 5 and hereby deny and dismiss the allegations contain herein. However, when a friend or any Liberian citizen in need seeks assistance from me, it is a public information and a fact that individual coming to me for assistance, I always ask other private institutions and individuals to help.
Responsible for or complicit in, or who has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.
Response: These allegations are vague and indistinct. I need the specific details as to what is meant by misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery. I need full details on these allegations.
As always, and as Your Excellency’s Principal Assistant” and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, I want to recommit myself to the fight against corruption and your government’s open declaration to arrest and prosecute whoever is involved.
Assuring Your Excellency always to remain faithful to your progressive development agenda for our country and people, I remain.
Nathaniel Farlo McGill
Minister of State (Suspended).