20 February 2014

Liberia: Good Decision to Bribe? Ex Nocal Board Chair On Allegations

Monrovia — Mr. Clemenceau Urey former board chair of the National oil company of Liberia has admitted to giving bribe to the 52nd National Legislatures for the ratification of past concession contracts in the country's emerging oil sector.

Urey appeared before the Legislature's Joint Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to answer to allegations made against him as former board chair of the National oil company (NOCAL).

The call was to ascertain facts in the alleged lobbying fee saga and several irregularities unearthed by the General Audition Commission (GAC) of audit done in 2006/08/09 at the Entity.

His appearance came as a result of request made by NOCAL's current President Dr. Randolph McClain to the committee because according to him he could not answer to questions of the GAC audit report on past administrations.

The former NOCAL boss admitted giving the Legislature fifty thousand united States Dollars (US$ 50,000) under his watch, but said the money was given to the legislature reluctantly and was a result of refusal by the Legislature to go ahead with ratification of some concession agreements in the absence of lobby.

He also told the committee e that he was not informed by his former colleagues that they were giving the Legislature additional money that summed it to hundred and eighteen thousand dollars as additional lobby fees.

Urey Said: "We did it reluctantly. It is not something we wanted to do. We did it in national interest to get those agreements ratified but what I can say here to you today is that when the second payment was done, I was not in the Country and when I heard about it I got angry."

Responding to other issues raised by the GAC report of repeated increase of board fees from US$ 1,000 to US$ 3,000 within one year period he said, it was done in agreement with board members and was done because it was realized by members of the board that they were making progress in increasing the revenue of the entity and there was a need to increase board members' fees.

The hearing was intended for Urey, Dr. Foday Kromah former President of NOCAL, and two former lawmakers, but only Urey appeared. There was no reason given for the absence of Kromah.

Former Montserrado County Representatives Rufus D. Nuefville and former Representative of District #3 now District 7 AlomizaEnnos also did not appear before the joint committee.

But the committee announced that these individuals publicly would meet with the committee in closed session because according to it, they are not the Auditees in the GAC report.

It was a good decision to bribe

Asked by Representative Eugene Fallah Kparkar if he was aware that bribery is a criminal offense under the laws of Liberia Urey responded: "It is easy to sit down and condemn me, but look at the good it has done supporting the budget, training our people and supporting our Universities all of those things I think the good has outweighed the bad."

"I told you it was in the National interest, it was expedient and today if you see how the National Oil Company is contributing to the Country's National development especially it contribution to the National budget and that decision was not done only by me."

Urey also requested the committee to subpoena former President Dr. Foday Kromah to answer to some of the questions posed to him by the committee.

Audits conducted by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) at NOCAL for the Fiscal year 2006/08 and 2009 claimed that some former lawmakers and officials of NOCAL were involved in a fraudulent transaction of over one hundred and eighteen thousand United States Dollars (US$ 118,000.00).

The GAC report accused former (CDC-District #8 Montserrado County) Rufus Neville, (CDC-District #7 formerly District#1 Montserrado County) Alomiza Ennos of receiving over one hundred thousand United States dollars as lobby fees.

It is alleged in the GAC report that Neufville, who was recently named chief of protocol by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was the conduit through which the bribe was paid to the legislature.

During his tenure as a lawmaker the then Congress for Democratic Change Lawmaker served the 52nd legislature as chairman of the House's committee on concession and investment and it was at this time that the alleged amount was paid to the august body as lobby fees for the ratification of most of the oil blocks including the controversy block 13.

During an appearance, Friday February 14, before the Legislature Public Account Committee (PAC), Dr. Randolph McClain President of NOCAL said, he could not answer to questions of misappropriation for the years indicated because current management was not at the time at NOCAL.

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