New Democrat (Monrovia)

Liberia: Pastor Fights Back

Defending himself against charges of misapplying some US$1 million intend for the construction of a church in Liberia, the pastor told the court that he never misapplied the amount entrusted to him by his overseas donors.

Pastor Matthew T. Sakeuh is facing trial for allegedly diverting US$1 million to his personal account. He said on Thursday said he was being wrongly prosecuted on charges of diverting the amount in question.

The Grand Jury of Monsterrado Country last March indicted Pastor Matthew T. Sakeuh and his wife Plenseh Sakeuh who remains at large on three counts of misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and theft of property.

They further accused the defendants of diverting the money to their personal use, thereby causing serious problems with their donors.

In continuation of his testimony Thursday, the indicted Pastor told the court that at no time he ever diverted the money in his personal use.

"I did not place the Ministry's property in my name or converted it to my personal use as was alleged in the indictment. I challenge them to produce any document in court that I committed such acts.

I did not divert US$ 1 million but I used it for the Ministry," Pastor Sekuah pointed out.

According to him, he received US$60,214 from the ABC International to pay for the first 52.76 acre and he paid the money to the landowners, leaving behind the additional 20 acre as he and the Iceland ground had agreed.

Prior to buying the land, Pastor Sekuah claimed that his own Ministry, African Indigenous Evangelical Mission (AIEM) already had engaged the property.

"I suggested to them that we should pay for the 52.76 acres of land and then we could transfer the name on the deed from AIEN to ABC Children AID Liberia since we will be operating from AIEM to ABC and that was done.

"We later probated the deed through the help of the late Assistant Minister for Land and Mines Julu Johnson in the name of the ABC Children Aid Liberia. But we did not register it because of the passaging of the Land Reform Bill which mandates that landowners pay taxes on their property," he said.

On the question of the US$60,000 for the registration of ABC Children Aid Liberia that he was accused of diverting, Pastor Matthew T. Sakeuh challenged his accusers to produce in court any document showing that he did not register the organization in ABC's name.

Pastor Sakeuh's testimony continues today at the Criminal Court 'C' at the Temple of Justice here.

The grand jury of Monsterrado Country in March indicted him and his wife on three counts of misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and theft of property.

The three-page indictment informed the authorities of ABC International that instead of securing a new parcel of land, AIEM had acquired 52.76 acres of land which he would sell to ABC and said deed will be transferred to ABC.

ABC agreed based on the suggestion from Pastor Saheuh and his wife that the amount of U$74,000 was transferred to AIEM through an 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$221,000 which was unaccounted for.

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

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