8 February 2018

Liberian Drops Economic Sabotage Charges Against Sable Mining

Monrovia — The government of Liberia, through the office of the Special Prosecutor of the Special Presidential Task Force (SPTF), has dropped all charges against Sable Mining Africa Limited and Andrew S. Groves in the case Republic of Liberia versus Varney Sherman, Alex Tyler, Morris Saytumah, Richard Tolbert, Eugene Shannon and others.

The decision, according to the government, is consistent with Title II, Liberian Codes of Law Revised, Chapter 18, Section 18.1 of the Criminal Procedure Law, which gives the state the unreserved legal rights and authority to enter a Nolle Prosequi in favor of any accused person indicted for various criminal offenses.

Nolle Prosequi is entered in criminal proceedings where the prosecution voluntarily decides to withdraw and discontinue criminal charges either before trail or a verdict is rendered.

The court document to Nolle Prosequi the case was only signed by Cllr. Arthur T. Johnson and both Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa and Cllr. J. Daku Mulbah did not sign the document.

Cllr. Koffa resigned as head of the task force to partake in the 2017 elections emerging as Representative for Grand Kru County.

During the initial trial, Sable Mining and Andrew Groves refused to come to Liberia thus making it difficult for the state to prove its case against the indictees on the ground in Liberia.

A legal luminary said the Nolle Prosequi is like a plead barging adding that the state will make Sable Mining one of its state witnesses.

"When they Nolle Prosequi the case, you are coming to testify that you pay bribe, the state has no other alternative but to use one of the persons to come and testify, with that the state gives you immunity from prosecution and will now use you to testify to paying bribe. So Sable Mining people will not be prosecuted they can come to Liberia," the legal expert said.

With the dropping of the case in favor of Sable Mining and Andrew Groves, who were accused of paying bribe, the State might likely drop the case against those indicted.

The Justice Minister-designate, Cllr. Musa Dean, is the legal counsel for Cllr. Varney Sherman in the Sable Mining.

Now with the appointment of Cllr. Sherman's wife by President George Weah, in addition to the Nolle Prosequi in favor of Sable mining and Andrew Groves, this could be the end of the Sable Mining case.

The lawyer representing the legal interest of Sable Mining and Andrew Groves, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, said the government's decision to enter a Nolle Prosequi follows a careful and comprehensive review of the circumstances surrounding their indictment.

"They were indicted for alleged economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation, criminal solicitation and money laundering, which showed that neither Sable Mining Africa Limited nor Andrew Groves (prior to, during and after the passage of the PPCC Act of September 2010 had in any form, manner or shape interacted with any public official within the Liberian government in an improper or illegal manner," Cllr. Cephus said.

Cllr. Cephus further stated that the review also shows that the investment into the country by Sable Mining Africa Limited, of which Andrew Groves is the Chief Executive Officer, was made on the basis of legal advice and in good faith, for the purpose of setting up a business firm, the recruitment of staff and consultants and to facilitate the application for mineral exploration and other mining right activities in Liberia.

"The prosecution after reviewing the evidence, has come to the stark realization that neither Sable Mining Africa Limited nor Andrew Groves had any criminal intent to, nor did they, engage in the alleged activities of economic sabotage, bribery, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation, criminal solicitation and money laundering against the Republic of Liberia. Instead, it has become clear from a detailed analysis of the evidence, that they were innocent and unwitting victims."

Cllr. Cephus indicated that dropping of criminal charges has vindicated Sable Mining Africa and Andrew Groves as innocent victims. He noted that the government has accepted that it has no other alternative but to enter a Nolle Prosequi in favor of Sable Mining Africa Limited and Groves.

The decision to Nolle Prosequi the case in favor of Sable Mining and Andrew Groves, is less than a month after the exist of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's administration, which had brought charges against the indictees.

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