Liberia: Tyler Denies U.S.$75K Bribe Claim

Dethroned former House Speaker Jenekai Alex Tyler denies allegation that he received US$75,000 as his share bribe for the passage of a concession law allegedly intended to favor British mining firm Sable Mining during former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf's regime.

Mr. Tyler, who like co-defendant Sen. Varney G. Sherman broke political alliance with Mrs. Sirleaf nearing the end of her second term, are facing economic sabotage trial along with several top officials for an alleged US$950,000 bribe received to change the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Act of 2005.Serving as the third witness for the defendants, Mr. Tyler terms the allegations as "baseless, unfounded and have no iota of truth."

He goes further terming the allegation as "blatant and calculated lie," because he did not receive any money of US$75,000 from defendant Cllr. Sherman or any person for that matter for the passage of any law.

"To even state or allege that I demanded US250, 000.00 to pass it through the Senate [says] to me that those ... making the allegations do not understand the workings of the National Legislature. I was never the presiding officer of the Senate," he argues.

The witness read the concluding portion of a communication he says was addressed to him as Speaker by former President Sirleaf in which he says she gave the history of the Amendment and Restatement of the PPCC Act of 2005.

According to him Mrs. Sirleaf wrote that the Restated and Amended Act was duly informed by national professionals, Liberia's international partners and international best practices around the world.

He adds that Mrs. Sirleaf indicated that the instrument concerned has been successful in ... [enhancing] the code value of transparency in the bidding and concession process to ensure value for money in public procurement and economic value for concession rights.

He says Mrs. Sirleaf wrote that the instrument harmonized bidding processes with concession granting and licensing procedures in the mining and other sector legislations (forestry, agriculture and hydrocarbon).

Additionally, former Speaker Tyler says ex-President Sirleaf wrote that the instrument rationalized thresholds established in the 2005 Act, removing it from the law and placing them in regulations since they may be subject to change periodically.

According to him, Madam Sirleaf indicated that the instrument strengthened the complaint process under the law by clearly defining and articulating the functions of the Complaints, Appeals and Review Panel (CARP) and Complaint Review and Disposal process.

"Mr. Speaker, I believe this revised Act is best for Liberia and in the interest of our Country and people and recommend that you submit to the Honorable Legislature for enactment," Tyler concludes with reading of the letter.

According to Mr. Tyler, both the draft and the enacted law, Section 75 [are] the same under the caption "Scope Application and General Principles.He testifies that no "i" was dotted or any 't' crossed in both the draft and the enacted law.

"... So, if a Section 75 was changed in the law, I would be the first to know because at that time, I do not know about now, the debates were conducted before the presiding officer," he narrates.

"In short, there is no change in both the draft and the enacted copy of the Amendment and Restatement of the Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2005, approved September 16, 2010 and published September 18, 2010," Tyler adds.

The trial of the Liberian officials comes as a result of a Global Witness report titled The Deceiver, claiming that the Liberian authorities received bribes provided by Sable Mining for the passage of an amended PPCC Act of 2005 the containing the provision for the Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy (now called Mines and Energy) to have power to declare a concession area "non-bidding area."

The accusation specifically cites Section 75 of the Act which prosecution here claims is intended to create ease for the awarding of the concession agreement on the Wologisi Mountain where Sable Mining had interest in the iron ore deposits.

Mr. Tyler continues with his testimony today at 10Am at Criminal Court "C".

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