Global environmental watchdog, Global Witness appears to have given President George Weah the benefits of the doubts following his pronouncement over the weekend to prosecute former government officials fund culpable of receiving brides to award oil Block 13, to Exxon Mobile in 2013.
In March, Global Witness published report Catch Me if You Can, describing how the sales of the oil block was tainted by corruption. The 2013 approval of the deal, according to GW findings, was marked by $200,000 worth of “bonus” payments by the state oil agency.
Weah told a gathering of government officials and partners in the port city of Buchanan last week that his administration is ready to act on the Global Witness report, which alleges corruption into the purchase of the oil Block.
Last week, the committee established by the President to look into the Global Witness report presented its findings to Mr. Weah, though details of the findings are still closed to the President’s chest, but he said on Thursday that those former government officials found culpable will be dealt with under the law.
“Well, we’ve got findings after three weeks and we have the information and the government will sit together and we will make determination. Those that are culpable will be dealt with under the law,” Mr. Weah said.
GW in a statement issued Tuesday May 22, 2018 said it welcomes last week’s commitment by President Weah to hold accountable anyone found to have broken the law during the 2013 approval of the sale of oil Block 13 to Exxon.
“It is promising to hear that President Weah is taking the investigation into the 2013 Exxon deal seriously,” said Jonathan Gant, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness, “We urge him to ensure those who broke the law are held to account, whether they are government officials or company representatives.”
A copy of the Committee’s report has not yet been made public, and it is unclear what steps the government will take to act on its recommendations. Global Witness calls on the government to publish the Committee’s report and ensure a thorough, fair investigation into those involved in the 2013 Exxon deal.
-Othello B. Garblah