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Liberia news

Court takes evidence amidst GOL protest

The Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice has allowed certain instrument presented by defense counsels into evidence, ignoring prosecutors’ objection. Prosecution argued that the documents presented by the indictee were not the final report that had formed the basis for an indictment relating to a Japanese Oil Grant scandal.

No evidence

The CEO of the Aminata and Sons Inc. Mr. SiakaTuray is facing a separate trial on an indictment that initially involved former Commerce Minister MiattaBeysolow, former Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company Managing Director Mr. T. Nelson Williams and their deputies for allegedly depriving government of US$5,764,110.84 which is a portion of US$13,083,350 from proceeds of the Japanese Oil Grant to Liberia.

The court has since dismissed the indictment against some of the indictees, including former Minister Beysolow. During hearing on Thursday, 17 November defense counsels asked the court to mark instrument testified to by defendant Turay, which the court subsequently did.

Defendant Turay had testified that in August 2011, Aminata and Sons was called by LPRC and asked to sell a consignment of petroleum product on its behalf. He claims that his gas station Aminata and Sons was required in the agreement to pay for the product at a cost of $8.5m.

Subsequently, defendant Turay said Aminata and Sons obtained two bank guarantees, one for US$700,000 from Ecobank and the other US$400,000 from Guaranty Trust Bank, totaling US$1.1m.

After securing the bank guarantees, he said LPRC released the product equivalent of US$1.1m and that deliveries were made after pre-payment was put in place. He claimed that Aminata and Sons gave US$8.5m to the Central Bank of Liberia as required by the agreement, and that at the request of LPRC, his gas station further paid US$6,500 out of US$22,500 that was put aside by the gas station when LPRC allegedly requested for it.

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Defendant Turay says at the end of the process, LPRC allegedly prepared a report summarizing all the activities and presented it to the government. But at some point, defendant Turay says the Liberia Anti – Corruption Commission or LACC called Aminata and Sons to answer questions regarding the process.

He further alleged that at the end of the LACC investigation, the Commission allegedly “prepared a final report,” that allegedly recommended that the remaining US$16,000 out of the US$21,500 be paid. He claimed to have been surprised to receive a writ indicting his institution for crimes contained in the indictment.

But the prosecution has rejected the report relied on by the defendant on grounds that it did not form the basis of his indictment. The court however said the bulk of records believed to be LACC final report dated August 19, 2013 by government tax payments for storage fees to LPRC, deposit slips, delivery orders, bank guarantees, MOU between LPRC and Aminata, Japanese Oil Grant final report, Justice Ministry letters and reply and checks … testified to by the witness were marked by court. Defendant Turay alleged that to every payment made there was a delivery order authorizing the lifting of the product. 

By Winston W. Parley

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