23 November 2012

Liberia: Pastor, Wife in U.S. One Million Scam

The trial of Pastor Matthew T. Sakeuh and his wife, Plenseh, accused of stealing US$1m continued Thursday with the first state witness Ms Gudrum Maargeet Palsdottir testifying.

She began her testimony when the trial opened in Monrovia Wednesday implicating the couple in the crime.

The pastor and his wife have pleaded not guilty to misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and theft of property. The charges stemmed from money that was reportedly given him abroad to purchase land in Liberia for the construction of the branch of a church.

Witness Palsdottir told Criminal Court 'C' at the Temple of Justice that their case against the Pastor was clear as evidenced by a series of e-mail messages from him regarding the property.

She referred to an e-mail that was sent to her dated 10 January 2007 asking for permission to preserve 20 acres of land for ABC in Liberia.

Another e-mail from the defendant dated 11 January 2007 asked to travel to Iceland and discuss their vision and plan with ABC International Board.

She also said that Pastor Sakeuh was key in the registration of ABC Children Aid in Liberia, approval of article of incorporation, bylaw and constitution, certificate of accreditation and ABC 52.76 acres of property.

The witness further said pastor Sakeuh e-mailed her on 27 January 2007 for asking to open the ABC account with LBDI in Liberia. Another e-mail from him dated 30 January 2007 thanked the leadership of ABC Iceland and ABC International for the support that they have given ABC Aid in Liberia.

Concerning the financial issue, she claimed that the defendant did receive US$8,968 for the purchase of 52.76 acres and additional 21 acres of land for ABC Liberia Children Aid in Liberia on 2 February 2007.

She also informed the court that pastor Sakeuh also received US$ 21,150 for building roads and US$94,000 from the children's welfare funds. "There is an agreement on the support from the Children Welfare Funds to ABC Children Aid," the witness told the court. The witness continues her testimony today.

According to the indictment, ABC agreed based on the suggestion from pastor Saheuh and his wife and the amount of U$74,000 was transferred to AIEM through LBDI account.

The indictment further claimed that the defendants received additional U$32,000 for 72.6 acres of land to ABC as well as U$21,000 which was unaccounted for.

Also U$6,000 was reportedly provided to the defendants for the preparation, filing and processing of the article of incorporation for ABC Children Aid Liberia.

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