12 October 2012

Liberia: Sherman's Dilemma - the Roaring Danish Journalist's Unfinished Business

Common sense tells us that problem does not go away; no matter how hard and with whatsoever speed it may come with, the best thing to always do is to meet it head on and openly but clearly deal with it every inch along the way. However, the worse thing to do is to beg the issue on hand by using every stunt to postpone it, because when it takes sufficient air and bounces back, with no mercy, it will solve everything that stands in its way. A case in point is this roaring Danish Journalist's unfinished business which to a larger extent has become Cllr. Varney Sherman's dilemma or tight spot, as no matter how the saga is cold shouldered, the greater it gains more steam and to keep listening to one of the key players rubbishing such an alleged grave criminal act at the peril of the nation's image at home and abroad by saying those who are advancing or pursuing such are not his caliber, and have not achieved what he has; that is why he is not bothered to comment until they can step forward still raises more questions than answers. However, The New Republic wants to remind the well-learned Counselor that it takes people below one's dignity in any capacity to heap shock and unbearable stress and tension on the tough big guy; that's while no matter how tough and well-grounded the chicken may be, the breeze that will profoundly disturb it and stubbornly ruffles its feathers always come from behind it.

Political analysts say if this nation particularly this Unity Party led-government will ever reap some renewed public trust despite being classified already by critics and pundits of losing the war declared on corruption, then it must close its eyes to pity and get to the bottom of this disturbing and frustrating alleged "White Collar" Crime so that all at home and abroad can see and know that this land still remains a country of law and not of men.

According to them, when something of this damaging nature continues to find pleasure in toying with the image, integrity, dignity and the respect of the collective nation and people based on the alleged action of a few persons who feel are well-placed and can not be made to speak the truth openly, yet are being provided all sorts of cover up to shield them from facing an independent investigation in order to clearly vindicate themselves from the grave looming suspicion, then this nation fears men more than God.

In keeping with internationally accepted best practice, it is expedient at this juncture for all those allegedly linked to this unhealthy episode to relinquish any official position in order to clear their names from such dent instead of having the concerned citizens to take up issue with them and begin to call for their resignation and prosecution since they feel so much above the law to openly come clean regarding the troubling and character-wrecking quandary such practice has landed the nation into.

Besides Darius Dillion who Cllr. Sherman has dealt with as a stooge being used and challenged those using him to come in the open on this matter, couple of eminent personalities who don't want to be drawn into the fray and would want their names out of print, were critical of the manner and style being used by the government especially the President following the released of result deduced from her sanctioned investigation which created more suspicions and vague finding that lacks credibility and sincerity.

They wonder whether it is the pleasure of the government and the President in particular to see the way things have been handled in this Danish Journalist's sage in which high profile named and unnamed government officials as well as prominent individuals are allegedly linked without pursuing a moral line that will not compromise the matter and finally have it swept under the rug as it seems to be the prevailing reality.

According to them, their concern is based on the torment the image of this country is being plagued with which is glaring reflecting that no matter what, there are indeed some untouchable individuals in the society that all must fear even if the perform the most degrading acts.

The whole saga came to light as a result of a documentary released by a Danish Journalist, Mads Brugger Cortzen, working undercover, where he allegedly revealed that he gave US$35,000 to the Chairman of the Unity Party, Counselor Varney Sherman as a 'secret contribution' to the party's 2011 election campaign to get an appointment as Liberia's Honorary Consul General to the Central African Republic (CAR).

However, Counselor Sherman has since denied the claim on a local radio station in Monrovia, and in a drive to setting the record straight, also insisted that he has done nothing wrong.

But who could be cooking up the lies, as Mads Brugger, who presented himself as Danish businessman Mads Cortzen during the undercover stint, made the claim in a documentary film called The Ambassador he made and aired on Swedish television channel, SVT in March.

He alleged that he wanted to use this diplomatic status as a cover to do diamond business in the CAR. Brugger alleged that he was introduced to the Ruling Party Chairman by two other Liberians and a Dutchman.

In the film, a voice purported to be Counselor Sherman can be heard introducing Cortzen to the then acting Foreign Minister as a Danish businessman who has had interest in Liberia for many years and who thought it appropriate to apply for the courtesy and privilege to serve as Liberia's Honorary Consul General in Central African Republic.

Brugger alleged that Counselor Sherman endorsed him and told the acting minister that they were the best of friends.

The film also revealed that when Counselor Sherman's efforts to help the Dane failed, Brugger turned to others who made his appoint possible. At the end of the film he is shown in a celebratory mood with then Foreign Minister, Dr. Toga Gayeway McIntosh.

However, it was reported that Counselor Sherman told the Nordic Africa News that he did not receive any money from the journalist for the UP. According to the Nordic African News, here is excerpt of what he (Cllr. Sherman) says in an email sent to this magazine:

"A Mr. Mads Johan Cortzen was introduced to me by Mr. Wilfred Cooke, a personal friend of more than 50 years, with the information that he was a businessman in Denmark, who wanted to be an Honorary Consul for Liberia in Denmark.

"Incidentally, Mr. Cooke and I grew up together as friends in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County until I graduated from high school in December 1971. We have continued our relationship since then.

"Along with Mr. Cooke was another Liberian by the name of Abraham Swaray and another European by the name of Willem Tijssen. I agreed to give the assistance because I was assured by the two Liberians that if I was successful, Mr. Cortzen would pay them a success fee. I agreed to give the assistance because I thought that this would provide some financial opportunities to these two Liberians, who were then underemployed - earning far less than their capacities.

"I was also assured by Deputy Minister Demmah and Minister Olubanke Akerele of the Foreign Ministry at that time, on consultations with them, that for the Liberian Government to agree to commission someone as an Honorary Consul, they would have to conduct a due diligence, including Interpol investigation, on the person. This information gave me the confidence that if Mr. Cortzen was anything other than what he had represented to me, the misrepresentation would be discovered and he would be exposed. Mr. Cortzen later decided that instead of Copenhagen, he wanted to be Honorary Consul to the Central African Republic.

"Mr. Cortzen offered to pay me the amount of US$30,000.00 as a fee. I told him that for matters such as that which he asked me to assist with, where the final result was not under my control, I usually accept a success fee. So I refused to accept the US$30,000.00. He told me that he would prefer that I keep the US$30,000.00 in Liberia as he had difficulty bringing it to Liberia and would have difficulty taking back to Europe.

"He also suggested that I might need some funds to assist with the process. I understood his predicament of having to take US$30,000.00 on his person back to Europe and so I agreed to accept the funds on account for him pending successful conclusion of the request to be an Honorary Consul.

"Some time later, Mr. Cortzen became overly assertive with his demands for results, sometimes bothering on accusations that I was misrepresenting the efforts that I was making on his behalf. I took one of his emails to be an insult. I sent him a return email that I would no longer make any representations on his behalf and terminated the relationship. I also advised him to take delivery of the US$30,000.00 that he had given to me or have somebody else take delivery of it.

"He actually sent me back an email, in which he thanked me for my services, and instructed that I deliver the funds to Mr. Abraham Swaray. On March 16, 2011 I wrote a check for the amount of US$30,000.00, drawn on account no. 05-00-00882-6 at International Bank (Liberia) Limited, Broad Street, Monrovia, Liberia, payable to Mr. Abraham Swaray. That account is in the name of me and my wife, Joyce Sherman. Mr. Swaray took the check and cashed it the same day. In addition to taking the check, Mr. Swaray must have issued me a receipt but I can't find it immediately.

"I was informed several months after Mr. Abraham Swaray had taken the check for the US$30,000.00 that Mr. Cortzen had been appointed as Honorary Consul; but what is most important is that at the time of his preferment I was not making any representation on his behalf as I had terminated all relationships and contacts with him long before then". He added, "Mr. Cortzen never gave me any money for Unity Party."

The magazine noted that Mr. Swaray admitted receiving the check from Counselor Sherman, encasing it at the International Bank and turning the money over to Mr. Tijssen.

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