Prosecutors here are challenging a criminal appearance bond filed by commercial bank Afriland First Bank as a surety in the ongoing trial of several persons and banking institutions for their roles in an economic sabotage case being pursued by two Czech Republican brothers Pavel and Martin Miloschewsky.
The defendants including Senate Secretary Nanborlor F. Singbeh are accused of allegedly dubbing the two Czech Republican brothers Pavel and Martin Miloschewsky of US$5,062,419.10 under the pretense of establishing a rock crushing company MHM Eko – Liberia in which the victims retained the largest share of 70 percent.
On 19 July the prosecution filed its exception to the criminal appearance bond filed by Afriland First Bank, saying it is grossly inadequate and it did not “double the gain” as required by law [to file a bond that is twice the amount that appears on the indictment].
Additionally, the prosecution argued that the surety Saar Insurance Company is not qualified to serve as surety because it has no current business certificate qualifying it to do business in the year 2020.
According to the prosecution, the official receipt annexed to the bond is for a period ending on June 14, 2020, therefore its annexation to the criminal appearance bond filed on behalf of Afriland First Bank on 17 June is not legitimate because it had already expired.
But the defense lawyers insist that Saar Insurance Company could not obtain its current business registration certificates and other licenses on time since the declaration of the State of Emergency here due to Covid – 19 made many public and private institutions to cease or scale down.
“The Annual Operating Levy issued the surety just expired as recent as June 14, 2020. Had it not been for the current situation as herein stated, it would [have] renewed on time. The CBL [Central Bank of Liberia] has not withdrawn, suspended of cancelled the authority of the surety to operate,” the defense argues.
Responding to the prosecution’s demand for the defendant to double the gain, the defense team insist that the indictment stated that US$102,000.00 of US$5,062,149.10 went into an account opened at Afriland First Bank in the name of MHM Eko Liberia, Inc.
“It is US$102,000.00 and not the US$5,062,149.10 that Movant would be ordered to restitute. Hence, the Prosecution is in error to say that the bond calculation should be on the US$5,062,149.10,” the defense says.
Afriland First Bank, Nanborlor Singbeh, Ecobank Liberia, former National Investment Commission (NIC) Executive Director George Wisner, NIC Incentive Officer Othello Z.B. Karr, Karel Socher of MHM Eko Liberia, Ales Sranmek, Sherman Logan and Jan Holask and several others are listed in the indictment issued on 8 June by Criminal Court “C.”
The indictment accuses the defendants of allegedly conspiring to commit economic sabotage in violation of the Penal Law. They face charges of economic sabotage, theft of property, forgery and criminal conspiracy.
Other defendants in the case include Barry F. Tequah, Ousman Fofana, Gloria Cain, Sylvester Selvkpoh, Patrick Saah Siaphia, Mulbah Kenneh and Patrick Siaphe.
Prosecution claims that defendant Singbeh used his official position to conspire and connive with Gloria Caine, George Wisner, Othello Z.B. Karr, Prince A. Saysay and others to obtain faked and fraudulent “Investment Incentives” for duty free privileges.
The defendants allegedly obtained the faked “investment Incentives” for duty free privileges in spite of the fact that MHM Eko – Liberia was due to engage in crushed rocks and related businesses with US$7,616,152 capital investment.
According to the indictment, defendant Singbeh opened two bogus accounts in the name of MHM Eko-Liberia, conspired with Karel Sochor, Ales Sramek, Peter Pesek, Jan Hilansk and Gloria Caine by convincing the Czech nationals to transfer US$2,495,109 and US$102,000,000 to pay custom duties on equipment imported, employees’ salaries and other running cost.
The indictment notes that the total value of properties including cash and equipment stolen directly from the Czech nationals by the defendants is estimated at about US$5,062,419.10. British national Hans Armstrong has been the Attorney-In-Fact of the two Czech brothers at the rock crushing company that was situated in Margibi County.
By Winston W. Parley