Liberia: Travel Bans for Corkrum, 28 Others

Days after her triumphant entry to the country, the former Managing Director of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), Ellen Corkurm will now have herself to blame following a controversial travel ban that is expected to restrict her movement while in Liberia.

This was disclosed on Tuesday, February 4, by Liberia's Solicitor General, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus in a brief chat with journalists at the Temple of Justice that houses the Supreme Court and several other courts.

In response to a question about his communication to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), where he sought the re-indictment of Corkrum and several other defendants whose charges were initially dropped, Cephus said, "We are going to file a writ of Ne exeat republica to Criminal Court 'A' for 28 individuals."

Ne exeat republica is a writ issued to restrain a person from leaving the jurisdiction of the court pending an action.

Though, there was no document shown journalists to authenticate the truthfulness of Cllr. Cephus' statement, he argued, "it is vital to prevent her from escaping the country."

It can be recalled that Corkrum clandestinely left Liberia with the help of some top security personnel that were serving in the Unity Party-led government, who were also staunch confidants of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Corkrum's escape was precipitated by an indictment by the Grand Jury of Montserrado County in 2013 on charges of economic sabotage, criminal facilitation, conspiracy to defraud the government, and making unauthorized transfers of funds from government accounts.

She was indicted, along with Musa Bility, then chairman of the Board of Directors of LAA; the Monrovia Diaspora Consulting, LLC, through Momar Dieng, a U.S. citizen; and the First International Bank; and all authorized representatives of the authority.

The First International Bank was indicted for allegedly conspiring with co-defendants of Corkrum, Melvin Johnson & Associates, to make an unauthorized transfer of funds in the amount of US$56,750 from the account of the Liberia Airport Authority when Corkrum was the Managing Director.

(L-r) Melvin Johnson and Ellen Corkrum claimed that the Government of Liberia is morally decadent; a questionable judicial system; and that the charges are false and politically-motivated

Corkrum was also accused of transferring US$269,000 to a fictitious company, Diaspora Consulting, LLC and its CEO, Momar Dieng, through whom she reportedly attended the Kennedy Business School, Harvard University.

However, the lawyers representing the Government filed a motion for Nolle Prosequoi at Criminal Court 'C' at the Temple of Justice, on December 3, 2019, requesting that all charges against Ms. Ellen Corkrum be dropped. On December 9, the government's request was granted the same day by Judge Nancy F. Sammy.

In 2015, some efforts were made to secure Corkrum's extradition to Liberia. The Solicitor General at the time, Cllr. Betty L. Blamo, traveled to the United States to meet U.S. authorities but did not materialize, making it impossible for Corkrum to be served her indictment or extradition to lead to prosecution.

Cllr. Blamo at the time said, "The US Department of Justice acknowledged receipt of the extradition requests on Ms. Ellen Corkrum and Melvin Johnson."

It can also be recalled that, while in pursuit of their extradition, Corkrum and Johnson "approached" the US Department of State with tapes allegedly implicating the government of Liberia in corruption, the same crime for which they were indicted.

In their recording, the pair claims that the Government of Liberia is morally decadent; a questionable judicial system; and that the charges are false and politically-motivated and, therefore, request the US Justice Department through the Department of State, to deny the extradition of its (US) citizens, as they are, to such a country and government.

Also, on December 6, 2013, Corkrum, in one of her many interviews claims, that "when we were in Liberia, we discovered corruption in the government -- we decided to record these corruptions...

"Initially, this was a fight about our personal liberties, but now it is a cause and a fight about the liberation of the unprivileged in Liberia".

As for Johnson, he said, "Our beloved nation is unfortunately vastly divided into the 'haves', those that support this corrupt government and the rest of the majority population, I am committed to the cause of exposing this government; we have been and continued to await this corrupt government extradition attempts, so far, to no avail".

Prior to Corkrum's brief stay at the LAA, she served as a U.S. Military Black Hawk assault helicopter pilot, a Major in the United States Armed Forces Reserves, and a commercial airline pilot. She is a graduate of Harvard University with a Master's Degree in Public Administration. She also holds an MBA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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