3 October 2017

Liberia: Unity Party Share Tens of Millions of Dollars in Off-Book Payments Under Shell Company to Fund Campaign

Monrovia — FrontPageAfrica has uncovered, through credible sources, in and outside of Liberia, including in the United States, that Conex Telecommunications Incorporated, a venture wholly owned by Mr. Sherriff Abdallah, a Unity Party stalwart, and a key supporter and financier of Vice President Joseph Boakai campaign, channeled more than US$25 million of state tax revenue to the ruling party's 2011 campaign.

According to our source, Abdallah has been using funds from a questionable contract with Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) to finance the political activities of Vice President Boakai, like he did for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2011.

But the Unity Party has denounced knowing Sherriff Abdallah, noting that they have no such individual in the part, lest to the hierarchy.

This discovery comes just one week away from the country's historic presidential and legislative elections, of which the Unity Party's standard bearer, Joseph Boakai, is viewed as a front-runner, campaigning on "integrity and trust."

Abdallah was originally a petroleum dealer established Conex Telecommunications Inc. on December 23, 2011 being the sole proprietor of the entity

The deal was signed in 28 December 2011, by the Liberian Telecommunications Authority (LTA) giving Global Voice Group (GVG) an International Gateway Management System (IGMS) contract.

The local partner, Conex, wholly owned by Mr. Abdallah, was newly incorporated on the 23rd of December 2011, just five days before the deal was signed.

GVG, incorporated in South Africa, promises millions of dollars in revenue to host governments without them having to invest a single dollar.

It does this by monitoring telecommunications' traffic, implementing revenue assurance systems for international telecom gateways.

GVG encourages telecommunications authorities to have all telecom operators report through a government International Long Distance (ILD) gateway, the telecommunication authority, in this case, the Liberian Telecommunication Authority (LTA), then calculates a tax per minute on every incoming international call.

GVG asks nothing to develop the system, but then takes a percentage of every incoming international call taxed, in Liberia's case a $0.14 cent tax with the GVG consortium taking 60 percent.

Here is the breakdown of the share as reported by the LTA in its annual report between LTA, Conex Telecom, and GVG share this revenue ($0.14USD/min).

The Government of Liberia received 40% (Ministry of Finance, 30% and LTA 10%) and GVG received 60% (GVG, 40% and Conex, 20%).

During the period January 1, 2013 to December 2013, the total of US $11,228,033.50 was distributed to the stakeholders of the IGMS Project.

The deal drew immediate scrutiny by local advocacy groups, Campaigners for Change calling it "corrupt" and demanding that the Liberian anti-corruption commission (LAC) investigate. The case was never taken up by the LAC.

Global Voice was kicked out of Senegal and Haiti for its business practices, with complaints that it was a scam that distorted the local telecommunications market.

The publication Africa Report called GV The Great Telephone Racket.

This paper has learned that Global Witness is likely to view the paper trail on the Global Voice transaction a deal that was not renewed when it came before the government again.

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