29 May 2013

Liberia: Extradition Awaits Ellen Cockrum

Photo: Liberia Government
President Sirleaf and members of her cabinet.

The Government of Liberia says it has sufficient evidence to extradite the former Managing Director of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) from the United States of America to face prosecution on corruption allegation here.

In February this year, Ms. Ellen Cockrum was indicted by the Board of Directors of the Liberia Airport Aviation Authority (LAA) for alleged financial misappropriation of over US$500,000. She was also accused of awarding bogus contracts to her boy friend Melvin Johnson, a Senegalese identified as Dieng.

Making the disclosure yesterday, Liberia's Solicitor-General, Cllr. Betty Lamin Blamo said a team of investigators at the Ministry of Justice has worked over time to get convincing evidences to have Ms. Cockrum extradited to Liberia to face prosecution.

Cllr. Blamo said the Liberian Government will first seek the extradition of Ms. Cockrum back to Liberia through the Extradition Treaty signed between Liberia and the United States of America.

In February, Madam Cockrum was dismissed for alleged embezzlement of more than US$500,000.00 from RIA.

When noise about her corruption allegation spread, she absconded the country unceremoniously for the U.S. and since then government has been making efforts to extradite her for prosecution.

Thereafter, the LAA Board terminated her contract which was endorsed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She's also wanted for allegedly violating the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) and the Public Financial Management (PFM) laws, and for hiring the services of a 'bogus' foreign company, Diaspora International, which does not exist anywhere in the world.

Madam Cockrum is reported to have transferred over US$250,000 into the account of her boyfriend, Melvin Johnson in Atlanta.

Cockrum was named acting Managing Director of the RIA following the suspension of Julius Dennis. The LAA board recommended Ms. Cockrum to President Sirleaf as Managing Director, which was approved. In fact, it was rumored that Cockrum was tipped as the president's choice for the position of Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

Cockrum is a trained American soldier (pilot) who holds two graduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.

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