19 May 2018

Liberia: Presidential Committee Recommends Restitution, Charges in Nocal Probe

Monrovia — The Special Presidential Committee set up by President George Manneh Weah to probe the NOCAL-ExxonMobile alleged bribery saga has recommended that officials who were mentioned to have received monies in the form of bonus/honorarium for signing the sale of Oil Block-13 be made to restitute the amounts into government's coffers.

The committee, comprising Cllr. Ndubuisi Nwabudike - Chairman, Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull; Cllr. C. Alexander Zoe, Rev. Joseph Gardea Johnson, III, and Mrs. Frances Greeves presented the report to the President on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at his Foreign Ministry offices.

The report, a copy of which FrontPageAfrica has obtained, stated that "Receipt of such payment be published in a recognized daily newspaper within 15 days from the date this report is made a matter of public record. Failure to make said payment or restitution as recommended, they, the members, should be charged and prosecuted for receiving unlawful reward under section 12.51 and 12.12 of the New Penal Law."

Global Witness on March 29 this year released a report in which it called on the Government of Liberia to investigate officials involved in the Exxon Mobil's US$ 120 million purchase of oil Block 13 in 2013 for corruption and wrongdoing.

The international anti-graft institution in that report alleged that the oil deal likely enriched some former officials of government who may have illegally owned the block and also accused National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) of making unusual, large payments to senior government officials who sanctioned the deal.

The committee also advised in their recommendation that as a matter of law and public policy, members of the Board of NOCAL who authorized the payment of half a million United States dollars and honorarium/bonus should be made to restitute the amount to the government and people of Liberia. They are to make the restitution within 30 days after the report has been made a matter of public record.

Should they fail to make the restitution, they would be charged with misuse of public money under Chapter F of the New Penal Law.

The members of the NOCAL Board mentioned in the report, according to the Committee's recommendation, have also been barred from serving on any board in the Republic.

Taking cue from the ExxonMobil saga and in an effort to prevent future reoccurrence, Committee thought it better a legislation be passed to prevent any statutory board member of any public corporation to receive prerequisite, emolument or benefit, directly or indirectly on account of their service on the board or any other duty required of them by the government.

Global Witness named former NOCAL CEO, Randolph McClain; Former National Investment Commission (NIC) Chairman, Natty B. Davis; Former Finance Minister, Amara Konneh; former Lands and Mines Minister, Patrick Sendolo; former NOCAL's Board Chair, Robert Sirleaf, and former Justice Minister Christiana Tarr as officials who allegedly received huge bonuses following the authorization of the oil deal in 2013.

More details on this report coming soon...

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