Liberia: Ex-Defense Minister's Case Starts Thursday

Liberia's longer serving Defense Minister, under the regime of former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is expected to appear in court Thursday for corruption charges.

This followed an indictment field by the government of Liberia recently against Brownie J. Samukai and two of his officials. One of the multiple charges include "money laundering.

According to court documents, the money laundering aspect relates to claims that between July 2009 up to and including November 2017, he authorized the withdrawal of US$852,860 from the coffers of the Ministry of Defense's (MoD) account, named and styled: "Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Pension Account" at Ecobank-Liberia, which the government equates to money laundering.

Ex-Defense Minister and two others co-defendants, Joseph P. Johnson, former Deputy Minister for administration and Nyumah Dorkor, former comptroller, were charged with theft of property, criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage misuse of public money and money laundering in connection with the misapplication of over US$1.147 million from the account of the AFL at Ecobank-Liberia.

So, state lawyers the are prosecuting former minister Samukai said documents indicate that Samukai had made several payments between 2009 up to and including 2017, which were basically for activities that were already provided for under the National Budget of the Republic of Liberia, such as the AFL operators.

In the same documents, it said that bank account was based on salary deductions and established to provide benefits to wounded AFL soldiers, and also to the families of dead AFL soldiers, as well as to supplement pension package to personnel of AFL upon retirement from active service.

State lawyers continued that he illegally paid US$50,000, as death fees to the families of the late Nigerian General Abdurrahman, who the document claimed did not contribute anything to the fund, while serving as AFL Chief of Staff (CoS).

More so, the lawyers claimed that defendant Samukai made payments to facilitate AFL's operations in the amount of US$170,955 and US$369,380; the later amount paid to the high command of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) peacekeeping operation.

That Ex-minister Samukai in the documents said a total of US$270 was used to transfer the money to Mali.

But the tough talking Ex-Defense minster has denied all charges saying he acted based on the instruction of his former boss, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

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