25 February 2016

Liberia: 'Indictment Scare' - Former LPRC MD, Siaka Turay Go Underground

Photo: Liberian Petroleum Refining Company
Nelson Williams, former managing director of the Liberian Petroleum Refining Company.

Former Deputy Managing Director at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, Aaron Wheagar, spent his second night behind bars at the Monrovia Central Prison as sheriffs and bailiffs of the Criminal Court "A" are on the prowl for former LPRC Managing Director T. Nelson Williams, former Commerce Minister Miatta Beyslow, Steve Flahn-Paye and the CEO of Aminata & Sons Inc. Siaka Turay to appear before the court to face indictment by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County on charges of Economic Sabotage, Misapplication of Entrusted Property, Criminal Conspiracy, Criminal Facilitation and Violation of the Required PPCC Procedures And Processes.

The indictment states that the defendants intended to deprive the government and people of Liberia of the proceeds from the sale of petroleum products valued at US$13,083,350 donated by the Japanese Government for economic and social development efforts.

"The defendants did knowingly, feloniously, purposely, criminally, maliciously, wilfully, intentionally steal, pilfer, take and carry away, exercise unauthorized control over and converted the total amount of US$ 5,764,110.84 for their use and benefit or the use of the other under various schemes and thereby committed the felonious crimes of economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation", the indictment further states.

The defendants are charged for allegedly violating chapter 25, sub-chapter "F" (Economic Sabotage), section 15.80 (a), (b) and (c), section 15.81 (a, b and c) and section 15.82 (a b and c), section 15.56 (misapplication of entrusted property) and chapter 10, section 10.2 (Criminal Facilitation) and 10.4 (Criminal conspiracy) of the Penal Law of the Republic of Liberia.

Under Chapter 15, sub-section F, a person commits the crime of Economic sabotage when such person knowingly conspires or colludes to defraud the Government of Liberia; knowingly makes an opportunity for any person to defraud the Government of Liberia by another and does or omit or does any act with the intent to enable another to defraud the Government of Liberia

Section 15.81 of the Penal Law also states that a person is guilty of misuse of public money, property and record which is an offence of first degree felony when such person unknowingly steals, takes, purloins, or converts to his own use and benefit or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money or thing of value of the Government of Liberia of any ministry or agency thereof, or public corporation or any property made or being made under contact of the Government of Liberia, agency thereof or public corporation.

Count 9 of the indictment states that the defendants converted to their use and benefit or the use of other with no benefits whatsoever accruing to the Government of Liberia and without the knowledge and consent of the Government and the people of Liberia. The indictment added that through the willful, wrongful, felonious and criminal conducts of the defendants the government and people of Liberia were deprived of assets and finances.

"The Government and people of Liberia contend and say that through the Defendants intentional, willful, wrongful, wicked, felonious and criminal conducts, the Government and people of Liberia were deprived of such assets, finances, funds, revenue and resources by the taking, carrying away, exercising unauthorized control over grand total of US$5,764,110.84 and converting same to their own use and benefit and/ or the use and benefit of others without the consent and approval of the Government and people of Liberia", count nine of the indictment states.

During the period of donation of the Japanese petroleum products, T. Nelson Williams and Aaron Wheagar served as Managing Director and deputy Managing Director for Operations at the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company/implementing agent for the Japanese largesse. The court indictment states that during the period August 2011, Williams and Wheagar used their respective positions as implementing agent of the Japanese munificence, connived and colluded without the consent of the government, from the sale of the Japanese oil grant which totaled US$5,764,110.84 to deprive the state from the needed cash.

"That during the period aforesaid, the defendants Williams and Whegar being authorities at the LPRC which was the implementing agent of the Japanese Oil grant been charged with the responsibility to engage the services of the business entity through processes and procedures consistent with laws and international best practices. To execute the distribution and sale of the oil products on the Liberian Market and ensure that the sale proceeds are deposited into Government coffer knowingly, intentionally and wrongfully selected Aminata & Sons Incorporated- without going through a competitive bidding process and or other processes as provided for under the PPCC act to distribute and sell the non-profit petroleum products donated to the Government and people of Liberia by the Government of Japan then value at US$13,083,350.00 which is equivalent to one billion, one hundred million Japanese yen", the indictment furthered.

Count 4 of the indictment states that former Commerce Minister Miata Beyslow and then Director for Price Analysis and Marketing Focal Person Steve Flahn-Paye abused their fiduciary responsibilities by failing to monitor and regulate prices on the Liberian market and also to ensure full adherence and implementation while being aware that the Ministry was the consignee of the Japanese petroleum Grant with the responsibility to ensure the distribution and sale on the market.

"... The MOU executed between MOCI and LPRC and LPRC and Aminata and Sons and to also guide against creating and or providing opportunity for individual/s and or business entities to exploit and or abuse the distribution and sale of the Japanese oil grant knowingly, intentionally, purposely, wrongfully and acting in consent and or as individuals with criminal, diabolical, wicked, felonious, and willfully intent and jointly individually and through a conspiracy scheme jointly and or in combination of two or more other persons acting together the Liberian Government", continued the indictment.

On defendant Aminata and Sons incorporated by and thru its President and CEO Siaka Turay and all authorized agents, the indictment states "The defendant using the respective position and authority in total gross violation of the statutory laws of Liberia and being abusive and unmindful their fiduciary duty of Liberia not to exploit and abuse the business opportunity granted Aminata and Sons to distribute and sell the oil grant petroleum products but to ensure that the 21.19% percent gift element required and mandated be reflected in the pump price to benefit the Government and People of Liberia."

Meanwhile, since defendant Wheagar was arrested and incarcerated Tuesday the remaining defendants are yet to be arrested as sources hinted FPA that they are securing bonds with their lawyers before their appearance to Criminal Court C'. The government has drawn indictment against other individuals in past but later dropped all charges. Ten individuals were indicted by the government and charged with economic sabotage and criminal conspiracy but all charges were later dropped after a period of trial.

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