Debt Payment Fraud -Who’s Responsible To Refund Stolen Money?

MFDP building

In its reaction to two publications by the In Profile Daily Newspaper on the alleged financial improprieties surrounding domestic debt payments, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) on May 30,2017, issued a statement.

We began reporting on series of alleged financial indiscipline and stealing characterizing the debt payment process.

But the Ministry, according to the release, admitted of being aware of the alleged malpractices, without disputing any of the irregularities reported by this paper.

Also, the Ministry disclosed that it has taken administrative actions in the situation without disclosing the content (s) of investigations leading to the administrative actions and without explaining the administrative actions taken, though it said the Ministry of Justice has concluded investigations into the issue.

Be as it may, the dismissal of an official or officials in the Debt Management Unit (DMU) reportedly based on the issue at bars without telling the Liberian people who is responsible to refund the money stolen in the process creates more questions than answers. The Ministry has revealed the dismissal of DMU head.

Classified documents in our possession indicate that payments indented for many vendors landed in the wrong hands based on forged identities presented by unscrupulous individuals in collaboration with some officials at the Ministry.

One of the vendors is the Intestate Estate of the Late John Francis Marshall (The Nancy B. Doe Jorpken Town Market) on 9th Street in Sinkor, whose debt payment checks were issued to one Edmund B. Coleman, who is not the right person to collect the money.

The government had purchased a portion of the land from the Banks and Marshall Families and government owed them US$826, 000.00 (eight hundred and twenty six thousand United States dollars): US$300, 000. for the Banks, which the family has confirmed receiving and US$526,000.00 for the Marshall family which is still in limbo.

On February 11, 2016, the government allegedly issued a US$300,000.00 check to Edmund B. Coleman and on May 6, 2017, allegedly issued a US$226, 000.00 its equivalent of L$20,085,000.00 check to Edmund, totaling US$526,000.00.

Edmund Coleman presented a warranty deed to the government before receiving the money, when he is not the owner of the property. The deed is said to be fake because it was issued by Godwin Marshall, Mai Thompson and he (Edmund B. Coleman), when the property belongs to four sisters including Mary Marshall, Anna Marshall, Williette Marshall and Maud Marshall Smith. These four rightful owners have respective deeds in their possession.

In a communication to Finance Minister, Boima S. Kamara, dated October 10, 2016, the Taylor & Associates Law Offices representing the legal interest of the Marshall Family, told the ministry to intervene in the matter, indicating that Edmund B. Coleman had denied receiving money from the government.

Edmund Coleman has reportedly denied also of receiving the second check of US$226, 000.00 equivalent of L$20,085,000.00, at the Monthly and Probate Court. However, photocopies of check bearing his name, his Voter’s Card and ECOWAS Citizen Union-Liberia Chapter ID Card in our possession indicate he received the money.

The transactions started a year following the issuance of “Power of Attorney” on November 18, 2013, to Mr. Jefferson Douglas Coleman as administrator of the property. The family issued the Power of Attorney in the United States.

Despite this power of attorney, the Ministry sent payment authorization, along with the first check of US$300,000.00, bearing the name of Intestate of John F. Marshall/Edmund B. Coleman, dated March 11, 2016, to the Director of Banking at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to be encashed.

As far as Marshall family’s lawyers know, their clients have not received anything from the government since Edmund B. Coleman denies receiving the money and also since he is not the administrator.

On his part, administrator Jefferson Douglas Coleman, in a cell phone conversation with this paper on Wednesday, called on the government to go beyond mere dismissal by bringing to book those who allegedly received the money. He stressed the need to investigate family members who are claiming the property by issuing “fake deeds.”

Meanwhile, Senior Debt Analyst, Madam Patricia P. Dixon, has reiterated her calls for authorities at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to make public a comprehensive report of the entire domestic debt payment level so far if they must prove her wrong. Madam Dixon, who calls herself a “whistle blower” said she will continue to expose the alleged financial impropriety at the ministry until the Liberian people’s money is paid back by those who are responsible.

She considers the MFDP’s press statement issued on Tuesday as a complete admission to her allegations and thus calls for a full scale investigation into the matter and other alleged malpractices at the ministry, adding, “I want those who are stealing the Liberian people’s money to pay back and so I will continue to expose their deeds because my boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told me and any other Liberians to expose corruption.”

Madam Dixon said the blocking of her account to the Commonwealth Secretariat and Debt Recording Management System (CS-DRMS), coupled with the admission by the Ministry as well as threats to transfer her, has reinvigorated her more to battle corruption at the Ministry.

She said the Marshall property is the representation of how the entire debt payment process was being marred by alleged corruption because many vendors are still claiming their money, after payments were done on consolidated list, fragmented list and in face-value forms of the same amounts.

Below is the MFDP’s Press Statement issued Tuesday, May 30,2017, in reactions to our previous two publications:

Communications Unit

Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP)

                             Cell: 0775059916 / 0886518209 Email: abwaritay@mfdp.gov.lr/abwaritay@yahoo.com

 

PRESS STATEMENT

 

MFDP REFUTES AND CLARIFIES IN PROFILE PUBLICATIONS

 

Monrovia – Tuesday May 30, 2017: The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Categorically Refutes the In Profile Daily Newspaper’s Publications of Thursday, May 25, 2017 And Monday, May 29, 2017 With Headlines: “Debt Payment Fraud” And “Finance In Huge Fraud”.

Accordingly, the MFDP informs the public that it is aware of a situation of breach of duty by the Former Director of the Debt Management Unit of the MFDP.  The said breach of duty (failure to follow established financial procedures and instructions from superiors) was reported to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) over four months ago – (January 16, 2017); while the staff involved was forwarded for investigation.

The MOJ concluded its investigation into the reported gross breach of duty by the then head of the Debt Management Unit.  The MOJ investigation established that the head of the Debt Management Unit was in gross violation of financial procedures relative to the payment of claims against the government of Liberia and sections of the Civil Service Regulations .

Consistent with the findings of the Ministry of Justice and in addition to the law pursuant, the MFDP hereby informs the public that it has taken administrative actions by terminating the employment services of said Director with the MFDP.

The MFDP assures the public that the Administration will not tolerate and condone or lend support to any fraudulent act of any of its employees as it has a duty to the Liberian people and the Republic of Liberia to protect the people’s resources.

SIGNED:_________________________________

BERNARD ABRAHAM WARITAY

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATONS

 

Our investigations continue…

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