13 December 2012

Liberia: Pastor Scapegoats One Million U.S. Deal

While on trial for allegedly duping a US based ABC International of a US$1m dollars project to purchase 72.6 acres of land for the construction of ABC Liberia branch, defendant Reverend Matthew T. Sakeuh of the African Indigenous Evangelical Mission (AIEM) claimed ABC International is not a foundation to give out money, but only served as a channel to receive donations from governments and donors, adding it in this capacity that ABC International acted in his behalf since his organization (AIEM) was not registered in Iceland.

Defendant Reverend Sakeuh was jointly accused with his wife Mrs. Plenseh Sakeuh for allegedly duping the US based ABC International of US One Million project to purchase a total of 72.6 acres of land for the establishment of the ABC Children Aid Liberia.

ABC International President Gudrum Margret Palsdottir claimed that after providing funding to defendant Sakeuh, her organization's name (ABC Children International) or picture could not be found on the web site of the AIEM, or mentioning anywhere on the buildings.

But in his lengthy testimony Wednesday at the Criminal Court "C" in Monrovia, defendant Sakeuh claimed that Gudrum only accepted to intercept funding from Iceland Foreign Affairs Minister (name not mentioned) for the AIEM through ABC International account with deduction of 10 percent for administrative fees for ABC International.

In 2001, defendant Sakeuh recalled that while in the United States, he and six other board directors (totaling seven) found the African Indigenous Evangelical Mission (AIEM) and began the registration process in Indiana, USA with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a status called 501C3.

Upon being granted the certificate of accreditation in Indiana and the 501C3 by IRS, he said AIEM USA board decided to establish AIEM Liberia, charging him with responsibility as forerunner to raise money and material donations from donors in the US and forward same to AIEM [Liberia].

"The [AIEM USA] board raised money and purchased air ticket for my return to Liberia in January 2004 to begin the registration process," said defendant Sakeuh.

While in search of land in 2004, defendant Sakeuh said the Assistant Lands, Mines and Energy Minister at the time Julu Johnson connected them to a private land owner [in] Gbaingba's Town along the Monrovia-Robertsfield highway.

"We first engaged 52.76 acres and agreed on the price of US$74,000.00 to be paid by installment; the amount did not include survey fees, deed probation and registration...," said Sakeuh.

He said the Surveyor charged US$25 per lot to survey 52.76 acres, indicating US$100 per acre. He said the property owner demanded that they should complete all payments by December 2006, and that he returned to the US while the registration was also in process.

Between mid-2004 and mid-2006, he said AIEM deposited US$15,000.00 through its efforts, including the survey fees and the deeds probation and registration.

"At that point, we asked the administrator to issue us the deeds to be shown to our prospective donors and they agreed; I took that along with me to the US", said Sakeuh.

During one of his trips to Liberia in mid-2006 between Brussels and Liberia, defendant Sakeuh said he met three men on the plane, including one Oscar from Iceland and his two friends (unidentified) from Sweden doing business in Upsalla.

Having returned to Liberia, Sakeuh said Oscar invited him via Email to Sweden where he came across Gudrum Margret Paldostirr's nephew Dave, who was working with Oscar.

"Dave's father, who is the brother of Margret asked me what I was doing in that poor country at that time; I told him I was on my way to Sweden purposely to raise funds for my organization AIEM," said Sakeuh.

Based on the conversation, he said Dave's father then linked him to his sister Margret, who also held meeting with him along with few of ABC board members.

After casting AIEM's vision to ABC International board members and also presenting the organization's pressing needs, including the US$54,000 needed to purchase 52.6 acres, he claimed that Margret told him ABC International was not a foundation but a charitable organization solely depending on donations from donors.

As such, he said Margret suggested she would connect him with her friend, who was the Foreign Minister of Iceland for support, provided if he could eloquently present his vision and needs.

Having met and convinced the minister in the presence of Margret; Sakeuh claimed that the minister accepted to consider funding AIEM through ABC International on grounds that AIEM was not registered in Iceland.

He claimed to have made request for additional 20 acres to be added to the 52.6 acres he earlier mentioned. He additionally claimed that Margret confiscated the minister's call card that was offered him to deny him direct contact with the minister.

He also alleged that any donor group that expressed interest in AIEM, Margaret would prefer offering them her call card instead of his own, over claims that she sense him to be bless and was about to generate more money. The trial continues at the Criminal Court "C" in Monrovia.

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