30 November 2012

Liberia: Prosecute LPRC, Commerce Bosses - CDC Demands Over Irregularities in Japanese Oil Deal

Photo: Tami Hultman/allAfrica.com
Properly managed, Liberia's extensive natural resources can produce jobs, like the 500 created when ArcelorMittal reopened iron ore mines last year with a $1.5 billion investment.

The leadership of the Congress for Democratic Change has called for the dismissal and subsequent prosecution of Commerce Minister Martha Beysolow and the Managing Director of LPRC T. Nielson Williams for their roles in the Japanese oil contract. The General Auditing Commission report unveiled that both officials defrauded Government of an estimated US$5,000,000.

The CDC says former Acting Auditor General Nanka recommended that Amanata and Sons to be held accountable along with key government officials for financial discrepancies, and this the Party believes constitutes a legitimate basis for prosecution.

A few months back, the General Auditing Commission of Liberia, after the conduct of audits surrounding the Japanese oil saga, concluded that “LPRC’s Managing Director T. Nelson Williams should be censured by the President of Liberia for not protecting the interest of the Government of Liberia by ensuring that proceeds of the sales less a reasonable commission was deposited in the account of Liberian market as stated in MoCI’s cost-benefit analysis.”

“There is a need for the Commerce Minister to also be censured by the President for awarding a deep discount of US$4,584,292.90 to Aminata & Sons without any basis,” the CDC said. “LPRC’s T. Nelson Williams be censured for violating Section 48 (1) of the Public Procurement and Concessions Act by not subjecting the contract to monetize the Japanese Oil Grant to the Government.”

The report also wants “Minister Beysolow censured by the President for not monitoring the deal to ensure that the terms and conditions were enforced by the LPRC and be equally censured by the President for not ensuring that Aminata & Sons passed down to consumers a discount of 21.19% reflected in the pump price of petroleum sold on the market.”

The General Auditing Commission in its forensic audit recommendation required Aminata & Sons to deposit US$5,788,134.01 into Government Account #0220630001709 at the Central Bank of Liberia, as the excess income was unjustly accrued to Aminata & Sons as a result of the transaction. This amount includes US$16,000.00 set aside by Aminata and Sons for external audit purposes, as there is no evidence that an audit was conducted, as supported by LPRC’s Final Report.

Though the Liberian Senate is said to have conducted a hearing, the CDC believes the Senate’s action did not address the substantive issues of what appears to be a deliberate and blatant violation of PPCC regulations, leading to a defraud of an estimated US$5,000,000.00 in arrears meant for the national treasury.

The leadership of the CDC reminds all branches of government of their statutory obligations to protect public interests, and urge the appropriate functionaries to relieve the indicted officials for onward criminal trial as the party remains relentless in its desire to see a successful completion of this grave public-sector abuse.

The party is saddened by the proven lack of political will to fight corruption, and has readjusted its collective focus to a more individualized approach to holding violating agencies of government accountable.

The CDC will hence exhaust all available processes to uncompromisingly ensure that the statutory demand for removal, restitution and prosecution is adhered to.

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