26 August 2014

Liberia: World Bank Project Manager in Court for 'Stealing' $87k

Photo: Boakai Fofana/allAfrica
On the day of a nationwide disinfection exercise, anti-Ebola campaigners hit various Liberian communities.

Monrovia — Daniel Roberts, a World Bank Project Manager assigned with Ministry of Finance has been forwarded to the court for an attempted Theft of Property and Economic Sabotage in the tune of US$87,486 by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The money, according to the NSA investigative report submitted to the court for prosecution of the defendant, revealed that the amount was intended as an emergency fund to be used for combating the deadly Ebola virus which has engulfed the country since February. Prior to his arrest and subsequent detention at the Monrovia Central Prison, Roberts served as an information technology specialist.

The defendant was tracked down after the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) alerted the National Security Agency (NSA) on August 13, 2014 of a progressive fraud suspected to have been perpetrated by an unidentified employee of the Ministry of Finance. As the story was narrated to the NSA, in 2010, MoF needed a given computer software for its Revenue Department, in which to address the situation, a Canadian IT Company, Sogema Technologies Inc, was contracted by the Government of Liberia.

Although, the cost of the project was not stated in the document, but the project was implemented in stages. However, on August 4 and 6, 2014, LRA alleged that it received an e-mail from Sogema Technologies seeking verification of two e-mails, requesting it (Sogema) to refund the amount of US$87,486 out of funds paid to it for the project to be redirected toward a national emergency for the Ebola outbreak in Liberia.

The NSA investigative report stated that what seems for the LRA to raise the red flag was that the author of the e-mail requested Sogema Techologies to transfer the US$87,486.00 to the United Bank of Africa (UBA) to an account number 530330030004042, with beneficiary as DR&N IT and Business Consultant.

According to the report, the first e-mail bears the signature of Dr. James Kollie, Deputy Minister of Finance for Revenue, which the second is more or less, a follow-up to the first e-mail, which was allegedly sent from Dr. Kollie's e-mail address, but signed by defendant Roberts. The report averred that suspect Roberts denied his involvement, but while the investigation was ongoing at the MoF, he asked to use the restroom.

While in the restroom trying to make a telephone call to his office to remove his IMB Tankpad Computer without knowing that he has been followed by agents of the NSA, he was caught and the computer was confiscated from two of his personnel, Boye Jarwleh and Eric Gould. The investigation concluded that suspect Roberts disregarded his profession the laws of Liberia as well as the integrity of Dr. Kollie, planned and designed a scheme with the intent to defraud the Government of Liberia of US$87,487.00.

The defendant was also charged with the crimes of Economic Sabotage and Attempted Theft of Property for his gross disregard of humanity and the Ebola epidemic that has tragically taken the lives of so many Liberians, elected to use the name of the national tragedy as a pretext to steal public funds.


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