26 February 2007

Liberia: Produce Evidence, Gyude Gryant Challenges Gov't

Former Chairman Gyude Bryant has challenged the government to produce evidence linking him to the alleged misappropriation of US$1,397,255.00 during the two-year reign of the erstwhile National Transitional Government of Liberia.

Mr. Bryant said government has no evidence to indicate that the ECOWAS Audit Report linked him to corruption.

The former NTGL Chairman stressed that all he did during the transition was to keep the peace that many Liberians are enjoying today.

"The ECOWAS Audit Report was never submitted to me and said report never mentioned that I have stolen money", he protested over the weekend during a press conference in Monrovia.

Mr. Bryant said the government has embarked on witch-hunting of ex-officials of the former NTGL challenging that he is prepared to go to court of competent jurisdiction to exonerate himself if the government has evidence to prosecute him.

"If the government has evidence, let her go to court and I prepared to go to court as well", said the former chairman, adding, he authorized most of the transactions in government during his two-year term.

He claimed to have bought a house in the United States of America for over US$1million in the 80s before his nomination by warring faction heads in 2003 during peace talks in Accra, Ghana to head the former NTGL.

Mr. Bryant, who have denied misappropriating US$1,397.255.00, admitted that he used US$355,255.00 cash for security related matters.

However, according to government's investigation team, Mr. Bryant admitted to receiving US$667,000.00 and US$375.000.00 respectively on behalf of the National Commission on Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (NCDDRR), between the periods October 2003 and January 2006.

The team said the amount were donations made by several organizations outside the country intended for activities of the commission (NCDDRR).

Mr. Bryant, according to the investigative board, also admitted that he withdrew US$230,030.00 from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), to pay his former National Security Advisor, Mr. Wilfred E. Clark.

"Mr. Bryant admitted directing the withdrawal and use of the US$355,255.00 but failed to account on grounds that said amount, including the US$667, 000 and US$375,000 was expanded on security related matters", the Anti-corruption Task Force investigation team revealed.

At the same time, the team has disclosed that the then National Security Advisor, Wilfred E. Clark, has denied receiving any money from the former chairman.

However, information gathered by this paper indicates that the government of Liberia is seriously preparing an indictment for the former chairman for his role in the alleged misappropriation of US$1,397,255.00.

Accordingly, said indictment, when prepared, would allow Mr. Bryant to escape the first court of instance, the Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice to go to the Criminal Court C at the Temple of Justice to probably face the crime of 'Theft of Property'.

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