13 February 2013

Liberia: Why the LAA Boss Was Dismissed

A painstaking investigation conducted by the Independent Authoritative Heritage has unraveled how Ms Ellen Corkrum, the Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), was dismissed. The investigation by The Heritage regarding the dismissal of Ms Corkrum followed media reports of alleged financial impropriety at the LAA.

The investigation is aimed at establishing what prompted the dismissal of Ms Corkrum and to also verify the reports of alleged financial impropriety at the LAA.

According to our investigation, which is backed by multiple independent sources within officialdom, Ms. Corkrum was dismissed because she supposedly breached her duties and obligations to the LAA in sharp contravention of her terms of reference. During our investigation, it was established that the dismissed LAA boss was contracted in September of 2012 with the hope of contributing immensely to the reconstruction drive of the Roberts International Airport (RIA).

But amazingly, she did not live up to the task, said the investigation. "Ms Corkrum was given generous incentives and financial numeration because of her rich credentials. She has two graduate degrees from two acclaimed institutions-Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She had risen to the rank of a Major in the US military. She had served in the military as a pilot and worked in the private sector as a commercial pilot," one of our sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, divulged.

Besides the generous incentives and financial numeration, our sources further divulged that Ms. Corkrum was given a huge package to help with her resettlement back to Liberia. Our sources asserted that this was done to motivate the dismissed LAA boss to change the LAA. Despite all of these incentives and benefits, our investigation discovered, the Harvard graduate failed as an employer of the LAA to execute the responsibilities of Managing Director faithfully and efficiently.

"Based on this, the LAA Board terminated her services. The LAA Board's action was occasioned by a resolution by a unanimous vote of the assembled quorum during its January 28, 2013 meeting," our sources hinted. Our sources further hinted that the dismissed LAA boss allegedly made unauthorized wire transfer to pay RIA vendors through the private account of an entity, Melvin Johnson & Associates, which has no ties to the airport or the Government of Liberia(GOL).

"She awarded a contract exceeding US$2250,000 by single-source without receiving Board authorizing, the required PPCC "no objection" and attendant attestations by the Ministers of Finance and Justice; subsequently, having thus, awarded to this firm, willfully and intentionally attempted to deceive the Board and the Government by writing the PPCC ostensibly seeking "No Objection". "The preceding two actions prompted a letter from the Minister of Finance to the President indicating intent on her part to defraud the government," our sources added.

Meanwhile, up to press time, the dismissed LAA boss could not be reached for comments. There are reports that she has traveled abroad. But the reports are yet to be independently verified by this paper.

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