The NEWS (Monrovia)

25 June 2014

Liberia: Us$35,960 Paid to 'Bogus' Company

The House of Representatives have endorsed the General Auditing Commission's (GAC) recommendation calling on the Managing Director of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) Abraham T. Simmons to restitute US$35,950 he claimed to have paid for a Pathfinder Jeep online.

The GAC recommended in its report to the Legislature that Mr. Simmons should be sanctioned for violating the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) Act of 2005, a provision punishable under section 138 and should be made to restitute the money into the entity's account because the purported company contracted to supply the vehicle failed to do so.

According to the GAC, the failing of the company to supply the vehicle caused serious loss to the RIA.

In a report to the Plenary of the House of Representatives, the Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditures said following intensive investigation and scrutiny of the GAC report through public hearing, it was established that the company contracted by Mr. Simmons online and money paid does not exist.

The Committee said during the public hearing on the issue this year, the Comptroller of the RIA confirmed that payment was made for the vehicle but it was never delivered to the entity.

The Committee Co-Chairman Ben Fofana said following the execution of due process on the issues, the committee was left with no option but to go in line with the GAS report and called on his colleagues to endorse the report and forward it to the President for action.

In a related development, Representative Fofana said the Committee has objected to the unilateral decision of former RIA Managing Director Mr. Julius D. Dennis to grant a waiver of US$37,120,000 to Comium GSM Company, formally NOVAFONE without the consent of the Board of Directors which is a normal practice at the entity as captured in the GAC report.

He quoted the report as saying due to poor bookkeeping and inaccurate accounting; the RIA has failed to establish that the company has an outstanding balance of over US$37,000 to pay to the institution.

The Margibi County Representative said the committee believes that the wavier was inherent with fraud and an abuse of power by Mr. Dennis.

Rep Fofana told his colleagues that during public hearing on the issue, the Management of the RIA admitted that the amount in question has almost being fully recovered with a balance of US$6,000.

"Therefore, the Committee recommends that the balance of US$6,000 uncovered amount of the wavier, recovered and deposited into an escrow account to be established by the Minister of Finance at the Central Bank of Liberia.

Our Legislative Reporter said the committee's recommendation was unanimously endorsed by members of the House and forwarded to the President for action.

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