The NEWS (Monrovia)

19 February 2013

Liberia: Did NOCAL Spend U.S.$500,000?

Nearly a month since the euphoria and enthusiasm associated with the annual national County Sports Meet subsided, there are reports that the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL), sponsor of the recently held National County Meet is alleged to have spent US$500,000 on the competition.

Sources at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, speaking on condition of anonymity said NOCAL did give some money to the sport ministry to be spread amongst the teams that participated in the competition.

When the ministry was contacted by phone, Assistant Minister Murvee Gray said the ministry did receive sponsorship for the competitition but he declined to give details.

He told our reporter to contact Youth and Sports Minister, S. Tornorlah Varpilah or Deputy Sport Minister Dynasius Sebwe for details.

However, our sources maintained that the Youth and Sports Ministry gave money to the teams that participated in the tournament, but did not state the specific amount.

In spite of the unfolding development, there are reports that NOCAL allegedly spent US$500,000 on the county meet.

In order to corroborate the information, The NEWS contacted Cyrus Badio for comment but he declined to speak on the issue on grounds that Mr. Israel Akinsayah, NOCAL's Vice President for Press and Publicity, would be the appropriate to speak on the matter.

When Mr. Akinsayah was contacted by mobile phone, he said at an appropriate time a full report covering all of the issues would be out. Currently, he said NOCAL is conducting an audit and a report would be released to the public.

Meantime, there are also reports that the Ministry of Justice has transferred the case involving NOCAL and a local sport firm to the Liberia National Police (LNP).

The Public Relations Consultant of the Boima Sports Center, Roudulson Fayiah confirmed that the Justice Ministry has transferred the matter to the LNP for further investigation.

He said the lawyer representing the Boima Sports Center is on the case.

NOCAL is reported to have deposited US$163,000 into an account of Boima Folley, the local businessman who entered a procurement transaction with the oil company to produce sporting materials.

However, sources claimed that some officials of the oil company, including board members who handled the procurement aspect of the company's sponsorship deal of the National County Sports Meet allegedly designed the scheme to "siphon money from the entity's treasury" using the external bank account of a local sport firm.

Mr. Fayiah rejected the oil company's accounts that the sport center defaulted. He explained that NOCAL officials refused to take delivery of the sporting consignment when the firm contacted Oil Company for delivery.

However, he added that some senior NOCAL officials alerted the firm that the goods should not be supplied as planned and that the money be returned to the officials with a US$30,000 kickback to the account holder in return for hosting the money in his account.

"My client rejected the offer because it was an irregular transaction and insisted on delivering the goods," Fayah emphasized.

There's no evidence to show that the procurement contract was subjected to a competitive bidding process as required under the Public Procurement and Concession Act.

However, speaking on the Costal Show on HOT FM yesterday, Mr. Akinsayah said at NOCAL is a credible institution and would not engage in such a practice. He said at the appropriate time a full report on the matter would be out.

He claimed that tender advertisements were published by some local papers, but did not state the period they were published.

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