World steel giant ArcelorMittal Liberia has sharply reacted to Monday morning's claim by Defense Minister Brownie Samukai that it was involved in the importation of ex-military personnel with guns to serve as private security in the country.
Samukai said several companies were involved, but pointed out ArcelorMittal, and noted that the action by these companies violate the country's law and international protocols including the United Nation's armed embargo on Liberia.
The tough-talking defense chief said there was no need for ArcelorMittal to bring in armed men hired from a private international security firm, International Security Services, to serve as security for its ship/vessel when the Coast Guard of Liberia was up to the task.
"We are aware of what they are doing; we are observing them...and this is a total violation of our laws and the UN armed embargo on Liberia," said Samukai, noting that there was no need for anyone to panic about pyrite coming to Liberia. "This is Liberia, this is not Somalia," he said.
But in a response, ArcelorMittal said the Minister's allegation were not correct.
"This morning, it was alleged that ArcelorMittal Liberia was bringing in armed ex-military officials with ammunitions as security for its ship operating in Buchanan. This is absolutely not true," a statement signed by the company's communication Officer Hesta Baker noted.
"ArcelorMittal Liberia does not hire armed guards and nor does any company contracted to do work for us.
Furthermore, we have not hired ISS (International Security Services) to carry out work for us."
The company said "We fully abide by the United Nations mandate against arms and under no circumstances will we violate that mandate. ArcelorMittal Liberia is also committed to abide by the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights that sets out international best-practice standards for security arrangements of industrial operations."
"As required by law," the statement concluded, "the coast guards and the Ministry of Defense are able to inspect any of our vessels at anytime and we invite them to do so."