Finance In “Huge Fraud” -Debt Payment Checks Allegedly Recycled

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) appears to be choked in responding to alleged frauds surrounding the domestic debt payment.

On Thursday, May 25, 2017, we ran a story under the headline: “Debt Payment Fraud – MFDP Official Alleges.”

According to the story, the Senior Debt Analyst in the Domestic Debt Management Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Madam Patricia P. Dixon, alarmed of alleged fraud in the payment process.

Madam Dixon who calls herself a “whistle blower,” had told the In Profile Daily that a consolidated listing was prepared to avoid issuance of fragmented checks to claimants. She further alleged that the fragmented listing that should have been canceled, was also paid after settling the consolidated listing with the same amount.

According to her, the process was carried out when current Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Alvin Attah was Assistant Minister for Debt Management.

Before the Thursday’s story, the Director of MFDP Communication Unit, Abraham Watiray said could to speak to the allegations until he got to those concerned including the Economic Management Department.

As more information continues to emerge, and the Ministry is yet to respond despite efforts being made.

Some of classified documents in our possession indicate that, after disbursing checks to claimants in line with the approved consolidated listing, checks were also paid in fragmented and in different face-value forms with same amounts.

For example, Grace Gbatu was paid in Liberian dollars (L$9,505 CHECK#18173), and the face-value in United States dollars (US$172.80 CHECK#0404114). At the time, government was taking the LD-USD rate at L$55.00-US$1.00.

The LD face-value check was part of the ‘Domestic Arrears Printed Checks’ listing and the same amount check was reissued in the USD face-value. The question is ‘where is the LD check’. This is the representation of dubious payments in the domestic debt settlement, if confirmed.

Madam Dixon has alleged that several payments were made without meeting compliance and the checks are still in the system and being recycled. She also alleged that the following payments were made without compliance. MADENYENN AND SONS TRADING, CORP US$54,285.00 and JONES Y. GBORBEA ESTATE CLAIM, US$54,000.00.

Besides, there are two incidents that unearthed the allegedly huge impropriety. One of the incidents is the New World Printing Press issue.

A check with the of L$58,030.00 (fifty eight thousand and thirty Liberian dollars) and number-021084, in the name of New World Printing Press, was en-cashed at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). The owner of New World Printing Press, Madam Sonie M. Tealeh’s named was allegedly forged by an individual who received the money.

According to Madam Dixon, after New World reported the situation and together with officials concerned discovered the alleged scandal, they (officials) decided to pay the Printing Press on the fragmented check list (the list that was considered invalid after the approval of the consolidated listing). A check with the amount of L$27,240.00 (twenty seven thousand two hundred and forty Liberian dollars), and number-018525, was paid to New World Printing Press, from one of the single checks that had been consolidated.

Another alleged scandal is the debt payment to the Intestate of John F. Marshall (Nancy B. Doe Jakpen Town Market). The payments of two checks were allegedly made to one Edmund B. Coleman on behalf of the family when Edmund is not the administrator of the Estate and family members say they have not received a cent.

One of the checks, with the amount of US$300,000.00 and number-0010675, was issued to Edmund B. Coleman and encashed at the Central Bank of Liberia on March 14, 2016. The money was withdrawn from GOL operations USD account #: 220530000225 based on the Payment Authorization letter from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) on March 11, 2016, to the Director for Banking at the CBL. The letter bears the reference number: 24784/03/’16.

The big question is, why the ministry should have allegedly issued check to Edmund B. Coleman when Power of Attorney, written on November 18, 2013, had given Mr. Jefferson Douglas Coleman the authority to serve as administrator.

Documents in our possession indicate that the Taylor & Associates, Inc., representing the legal interest of the family, said Edmund B. Cole has denied ever receiving money on behalf of the estate.

On October 10, 2016, under the signature of Cllr. Milton D. Taylor, the law firm wrote Finance Minister, Boima S. Kamara to intervene since Edmund denied of receiving the money. But up to present, the family members said their claim has not been settled. If Edmund Cole did not receive anything from the Ministry, where did the money go or who received in the name of Edmund? If it got in the wrong hands, who is responsible? These are the question being asked as the family members continue to engage the government to settle them.

Recently, some of the family members headed by administrator, Jefferson  Coleman, converged with placards at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, to draw the public’s attention to what they described as stealing at the Ministry surrounding the domestic debt and other transactions. “Economic management becomes economic waste,” was one of the statements used on placards.

They also called on the government to respect and protect the Whistleblower Act.

Meanwhile, Senior Debt Analyst, Madam Patricia Dixon has challenged officials at the ministry to make public comprehensive reports of the domestic debt payment to prove her wrong.

When contacted via mobile on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, MFDP Communication Unit Director, Mr Abraham B. Waritay, promised that the Ministry will respond on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, since the issue was just brought to their attention.

Before going first story on Thursday, Mr. Waritay told this paper via mobile phone that the Ministry will address itself to the allegations at the appropriate time after meeting with officials in the concerned department and once the authority is given to speak to the matter. Up to press time, the Ministry remained tight-lipped, as our investigations continue…

 

Debt Payment Fraud -MFDP Official Alleges

Ministry of Finance and Development

Immediately after taking over in 2006, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf constituted an inter-ministerial vetting committee (IVC), with the assistance of international consultancy firms and experts to develop strategies in settling domestic debts government owed under previous regimes.

The committee and its partners did not only vet claims, but also prepared consolidated listing for claimants to receive their checks; and approved by then Finance Minister Antoinette Saye.

But the Senior Debt Analyst in the Domestic Debt Management Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Madam Patricia P. Dixon, has alarmed alleged fraud in the payment process.

Madam Dixon who calls herself a “whistle blower,” told the In Profile Daily that the consolidated listing was prepared to avoid issuance of fragmented checks to claimants. She further alleged that the fragmented listing that should have been canceled, was also paid after settling the consolidated listing with the same amount.

According to her, the process was carried out when current Deputy Minister for Economic Management, Alvin Attah was Assistant Minister for Debt Management.

They did not stop in the allegedly recycled payment. Madam Dixon said the Ministry paid some of the claimants, using the Liberian dollar figures with US dollars.

As a fraud examiner by profession, Madam Dixon said she has and continues to remain vigilant in exposing frauds in the process since she discovered the first irregularities in 2007 when domestic debt payments started.

Based on the advice of international partners, she said a system called Commonwealth Secretariat and Debt Recording Management System (CS-DRMS) was set up to keep records of Liberia’s debt portfolios, where she has been discovering the alleged frauds.

The female whistle blower said she decided to take the issue to the media because all efforts for the Ministry to address her claims have failed and at the same she was being undermined.

Madam Dixon said based on her strong stance against corruption and having raised the issues with officials at the Ministry, she was given a letter of transfer from the department; something she has rejected.

“They are not only attempting to transfer me from the Department where I am assigned to ensure compliance, but they have also blocked my account since I have been seeing frauds they commit,” she said.

According to one of the classified documents from the Ministry, Deputy Minister for Administration, Mrs. Juah K. Feika sent email to Madam Dixon on April 3, 2017, saying: “Dear Patricia, As I indicated to you on last Friday, Minister Attah [Alvin Attah, Deputy Minister for Economic Management] has requested that you be transferred from the Department of Economic Management and to also have your account blocked from the CS-DRMS. Based on the Minister’s request, I have instructed Murphy Socree to have your account blocked from said system. Your transfer will be concluded upon my return. Please therefore take note, govern yourself and take this change in good faith.”

There was no reason given in the Deputy Minister’s communication for Madam Dixon’s transfer.

The Senior Debt Analyst revealed that she has communicated her allegations to integrity institutions including the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC).

She has also challenged authorities at the Ministry to give the original report in the system CS-DRMS, because she said they are claiming of alterations in the system. The whistle blower said, besides recycling checks, there were lots of dubious payments because the fragmented checks remain in the system.

One of the classified documents in possession of this paper indicates re-issued checks in the debt payment; something Madam Dixon has challenged to provide the original ones.

Madam Dixon said, while she will not rest until the country’s money is paid back, she is calling on the Government, through the Ministry of Justice to ensure her security. “I have also written the Ministry of Justice and the Liberian National Police (LNP) for my security. God comes first; but they should protect me while I continue to bring them out,” she added.

In recent times, Minister Boima Kamara has been sacking some officials at the Ministry for alleged corruption. It beats one’s imagination for such to be going on without action if it is confirmed.

However, observers have it that an investigation might be ongoing to establish the facts.

When contacted via mobile on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, MFDP Communication Unit Director, Mr Abraham B. Waritay, promised that the Ministry will respond on Wednesday, May 24, 2017, since the issue was just brought to their attention.

Before going to press, Mr. Waritay told this paper via mobile phone that the Ministry will address itself to allegations at the appropriate time after meeting with officials in the concerned department and once the authority is given to speak to the matter.

Investigations continue..

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Liberia-China Friendship Organization Urges Liberians To Elect Leaders That Will Protect One-China Policy

The Liberia-China Friendship Organization (LICFO) is calling on Liberian voters to participate in the electoral process to elect individuals who will support and uphold the One-China Policy.

“You get the politicians you warrant if you don’t vote right by accessing the candidates who will reflect the interest of the nation and the aspirations of its people. Politicians can help guide policy, and so we need politicians who will guide and protect the One China Policy,” LICFO said in a press release issued on Monday.

According to the organization, the One China Policy is the firm foundation of the Liberia-China relations. As a result of that relations, Liberians have immensely benefited and still benefiting from the Government and people of the People’s Republic of China.

It named some of the benefits Liberia is enjoying from the relations include the reconstruction of the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex after the civil war and its current renovation, the construction of the Ministry of Health and the University of Liberia Fendell Campus as well as the ongoing construction of the Ministerial Complex and the Annexes of Capitol Building, among others.

LICFO then urged Liberians to vote for those who intend to guide and protect the One-China Policy not only because Liberia has benefited and still benefiting from the Liberia-China relations, but also China is a member of the Security Council; the Council that decides the fate of any nation on planet earth. “It is good to elect those who go with us in the same direction,” LICFO added.

LICFO’s statement comes amid reports of political elements who want to sway Liberia back to the renegade province of Taiwan when they gain state power. The organization pointed out that their action, is intended to enrich themselves, because Taiwan authorities know ‘checkbook diplomacy’ very well. “They want to use your votes, get to power and deny your infrastructural developments that the People’s Republic of China is currently providing,” the group maintained.

Meanwhile, LICFO has stressed the need to elect people who represent developmental ambition that will truly lift Liberia.

 

 

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US Style: Discussions! Political “Interference?”

Uneasy suspicion has brewed over the closed door discussion initiated by the United States Embassy near Monrovia with expected Presidential aspirants ahead of the coveted October 10, 2017 Presidential and representative elections.

An official statement from the United States Embassy posted over the weekend detailed its directive that presidential aspirants wishing to engage with diplomatic mission will be done in “Closed-Door void of media presence.

Accordingly, the Liberian News Agency (LINA) report quoted a release from the Embassy as stating that the first dialogue took place Friday May 5, 2017 with the appearance of little known Cllr. Dr. Jallah Barbu of the New Liberian Party (NLP) as debutant guest.

“The U.S Embassy will continue these dialogues in the weeks that follow in order to better understand the platforms, priorities and philosophies of the aspirants. The U. S Embassy said in a statement that it hopes Liberia holds a successful election that is free, fair, open and peaceful,” said the Embassy.

However, regrettably, the U. S Embassy emphatically directed that the US officials meeting with political aspirants will be restricted to the media, which has raised eyebrows among some presidential aspirants and voters over the expressed intent of the world’s super as the October 10, 2017 elections draws nearer.

The ongoing meeting comes against heighten heels of suspicion among some self-styled Liberian politicians that previous elections held in country were reportedly influenced by Washington through the influence of the US Embassy in Monrovia.

“We applaud the expressed objectives of the US-Presidential aspirants closed-door initiatives aimed at wishing free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections, but we baffled that election discussions bordering on these objectives should not be held at closed-door, it creates suspicion” said Francis Natoe, a self-styled political observer.

 Activist Natoe said the closed-door discussion undertaken by the US Embassy with Presidential aspirants has undoubtedly sparked-off alleged discussions at popular social entertainment places that the former colonial masters often choose Liberia’s Presidents at their detriment.

Like activist Natoe, renowned Liberian Economist Samuel P. Jackson also noted that the United States of America has supported Liberia for nearly 200 years, but said that support has unwittingly led to the creation of a political class that misruled the country.

“For 133 years from 1847, the political class was mostly of repatriated American slaves and their descendants, known as Americo-Liberians, but since 1980 with the overthrow of the Americo Liberian oligarchy by a group of enlisted soldiers under Master Sergeant Samuel K.  Doe, the reemergence of the political elite is no longer based upon tribe or ethnicity, yet the consequences are the same with a small band of greedy bureaucrats bleeding a desperately poor country,” said Economist Jackson.

Unfortunately, pundits have stated that with the US seemingly supporting the political configuration in Liberia, it makes a weakened opposition even weaker and timid thus undermining the creation of a vibrant democratic society that can checkmate the excesses of the country’s ruling elite.

With over 200 years of US engagement with Liberia, political analysts have surmised that much of its support seemed well-intentioned and in fact has been the umbilical cord sustaining the nation-hood of the country.

However, some Liberians believed that US support has always been characterized by biasness towards the country’s ruling class and political elite, unintentionally expanded economic inequality and solidified social chasms.

Debated with curiosity, some Liberians interview have opined that with centuries after America began its support to Liberia, the country’s political economy is still characterized by patronage, cronyism and opportunism, all designed to enrich a few at the expense of the hapless majority.

Notably, Liberian political leaders always shuttle between Washington and Monrovia with the conviction that once sanctioned by the US, the political deal is done without many hitches.

However, with less than 10% of the Liberian population, Americo-Liberians have dominated the national politics from the founding of the colony until slain Samuel Doe led a military coup in 1980; however the debate of how Americo-Liberians held onto power for protracted period has once again surface and dominating the 2017 political discussion.

Some natives have attributed the long serving tenure of Americo-Liberian to divisions based on “light-skin vs. dark skin”, particularly because the first president was of mixed race, as were several immigrants, reflecting the nature of African-American society in dominance.

It is believed that the discussion initiated by the US will be welcomed, but with uttermost recap of the country’s political event. Reports T. Michael Johnny 0775820581

Please Contain The New Killer Disease, Our Heavenly Father

REFLECTING ON THE wave of deaths in 2014 when Liberia was invaded by Ebola epidemic is as bad as any nightmare to remember. Thank God those days are no longer wished for in our midst, even as economic hardship and other vices are getting married to us. Read more

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Cllr. Gbeisay Takes On Media

By Yawah Jaivey in Kakata, Margibi County

 

Judge Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Kakata, Margibi County, has lambasted the Liberian media for unwarranted attacks against him in the handling of the Sable Mining corruption case. Read more

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Africa Poises For Top WHO Post-As Dr. Tedros Tipped As Favourite

 The former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, has been tipped as the next Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) due to the numerous endorsements from Africa and other Asian and Western nations.

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Female Law Enforcers End Retreat in Gbarnga

By Abel R. Okai, Bong County

 

The Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association (LIFLEA), in collaboration with UN Women, has ended a two-day national retreat for sixty female security officers in Gbarnga Bong County under the theme “Enhancing a Vibrant Female Security Network”. The retreat was conducted on May 5-6 2017, at the Development Education Network Liberia (DEN-L) Compound on the Dementa Road in Gbarnga. Read more

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SCNL Condemns Ranger’s Death At SAPO National Park

The Society for the Conversation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) has condemned the gruesome killing of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Ranger, who was assigned at the SAPO National Park and expressed regrets for the incident.

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‘Stay Order’ Amidst Transfer of Judge: Longing For Justice

Perhaps one of the biggest cases; if not the biggest corruption case which the Liberian Government under the gavel of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wants to win is the Sable Mining case being tried at  Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia. Read more