Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister-designate, Mr. Elias Shoniyin has sharply reacted to media reports linking him to the misuse of the much publicized ‘Japanese Grants’ in the amount of US$731,412.00.
The amount was given to the Liberian Government in 2014 for the sole purpose of building the country’s institutional capacity of the Department of International Economic Cooperation and Integration (IECI) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
As the news of Minister Shoniyin’s involvement in the misapplication of the funds overwhelmed Liberians from all sectors, journalists have been contacting him as to what really took place during the activities of the Committee which was given the responsibility to expand the grant.
Shoniyin said he was exonerated for any wrong doing by these anti-graft institutions, displaying several documents, including recommendations from the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission and the General Auditing Commission.
The amount of USD $731,412.00 was provided for a two-year project on the capacity building project. According to information in June 2014, half of the money was transferred from Central Bank to Afriland Bank under the watchful eyes of Thomas Kaydor and Augustine Nyanplu.
Several reports on the Japanese fund at the Foreign Ministry were reviewed including the report of the Joint Legislative Committee on Public Accounts, Expenditure and Audit; report of the Ministry of Justice; and the audit report of the General Auditing Commission (GAC). None of these reports points to any financial crime attributed to the action of Mr. Shoniyin. In fact, the GAC report listed all questionable transactions of the projects and the names of the persons who authorized the transactions and the payee, and Mr. Shoniyin name is not mentioned anywhere on the list.
This revelation triggers very disturbing questions, particularly after the widespread allegations against Mr. Shoniyin. What were the real motivations behind these allegations? Were there ulterior motives to blackmail? As journalists dug deeper into relevant documentations around this saga, these answers may be found and the truth brought to light.
He explained that the primary purpose of the project was to hire, retain and train professional staff with the necessary skills to increase efficiency within the IECI Department, and noted that 50% of the project goal was achieved, and further disclosed that Thomas Kaydor, a short-term former Deputy Minister for IECI Department and Augustine Nyanplu, Manager of the project were in charge of the management of the fund, and denied of being a part of its misapplication.
Minister Shoniyin bank slips were displayed to our reporter, it was further observed that bulk of the withdrawals were made by both Kaydor and Nyanplu without the knowledge of him (Shoniyin), this was also made known by one of the committees that the amount of L$21,394,360 was disbursed without adequate supporting documents to substantiate the integrity of the transactions.
Speaking further, Minister Shoniyin publicly denied any involvement in the syndicate to dupe the Liberian Government, and noted that all of the probes that were conducted by both the GAC and the Ministry of Justice cleared him of any wrongdoing in the process of the disbursement of the grant, with one of the committees which investigated the issue noted, “Minister Shoniyin failed to put in place a monitoring and supervisory mechanism to ensure to effective implementation of the project consistent with best administrative practices.”
For Thomas Kaydor, the Committee said, “Hon. Thomas Kaydor was also grossly negligent. While it is true that he developed guidelines for the implementation of the project when he took over, he failed to have the provision thereof fully implemented especially as it relates to the usage of the Ministry Internal Control Processors. Through his lack of supervision, Mr. Nyanplu continued to engage in further fraudulent transactions which brought a loss to the project. He ignored red flag in the project such as the bounced checks which if investigated promptly could have prevented further loss, he also failed to put in place a monitoring and supervisory mechanism to ensure the effective implementation of the project consistent with best administrative practices after he took over.”
On the role of Augustine Nyanplu in the scandal, the Committee in its findings said, “Mr. Nyanplu’s conduct in the management of the project, as Project Manager, is beyond redemption. His conduct according to the audit report resulted in the theft of LD$19,079,815.00 or US$227,140.65. He also engaged in criminal acts including forged letters to the bank requesting for overdraft facilities. There being no evidence that he acted in collusion with others at the Ministry, he bears criminal responsibility for the fraud.”
With these findings, Minister Shoniyin during the interview bragged that his hands are clean, a situation he said made President George Weah to appoint him as Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “If I was guilty of such, I don’t think President Weah would have named me in his government,” Minister Shoniyin stated.