New Democrat (Monrovia)

8 January 2010

Liberia: Democrat Libel Trial Begins Today

The Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice will today begin hearing complaints filed by Consolidated Group Inc. against the New Democrat, claiming it was libeled. Cllr. Kanie Wesson is representing the paper.

On October 31, 2008, quoting a GAC report, this paper reported that the state spent US$814,195.00 on scrapped road construction equipment that was virtually neglected at the compound of the Ministry of Public Works.

The equipment, brought into the country, littered the ministry's yard without being used as employees protested.

But the Chief Executive Officer of Consolidated Group Inc., Mr. Simeon Freeman, described the report as "inaccurate" and filed a lawsuit.

Mr. Freeman described the report as "yellow journalism" on grounds that the author of the news article did not even contact his company for its side of the story.

"We will take legal action against the New Democrat and they will have to prove that the equipment is a scrap," he stressed, at the time.

According to the GAC, "...Consolidated won the bid from the Ministry of Public Works to purchase 13 pieces of road construction equipment for the Ministry, but strangely, GAC transitional audit discovered that an invoice presented to the Commission shows that US$887,945.00 was paid for the said equipment, instead of the US$ 693,595.00 as stated in the bid".

Payment was made October 30, 2008 and the equipment was delivered between March and April 2007. There have been public concerns about the newness and durability of these equipment and wide disparity in the bid and the payment vouchers, GAC noted.

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