Court documents available to this paper indicate that all the current senior Justice Ministry officials in the George Weah government represented defendants in the infamous Sable Mining bribery case, now under consideration for a likely dismissal.
The case originates from a 2016 Global Witness report, titled “The Deceivers”, which alleges that several former government officials received bribes to the tone of USD950, 000 to alter a mining law in favor of Sable Mining, a British Company which sought a business deal here.
The court records show that Justice Minister Musa Dean is still one of the defense lawyers for Grand Capemount County Senator Varney Sherman and his law firm Sherman and Sherman, while Solicitor General Designate Syrenus Cephus and Montserrado County Attorney Edward K. Martins represented Dr. Richard and Hiene Van Niekerk.
The presence of the names of these officials as legal representatives of the defendants in the said case has raised eyebrows leaving many to wonder if these defense lawyers now turned prosecutors with their names still on court records as defendants counsels are attempting to allow their clients walk away as free men under the guise of lack of evidence.
Recent appearances made by Justice Ministry officials at the court in the Sable Mining case appears to show less interest by these officials due to what may now be considered as a conflict of interest. There are reports that President Weah’s acclaimed fight against corruption could be dented by this case as for counsels of the accused may use their current portfolios to set their clients free.
The Global Witness report alleges that Sable Mining Africa, Ltd. acquired stake in Delta Mining, which was operating in Liberia, and devised a scheme and system to bribe officials to change the procurement laws in order for Sable Mining to obtain prized mineral concessions below market prices, with eye on the Wologizi Mountain range in Lofa County.
The report alleges further that through its lawyer in Liberia, Cllr. Varney Sherman, Sable was able to pay bribes and make other questionable payments to key officials of the Liberian Government. Sable Mining officials themselves also made some of these payments directly, the report said.
Emails exchanges which have been submitted before the court showed how the money was distributed among these former government officials including former House Speaker Alex Tyler, former National Investment Commission boss Dr. Richard Tolbert, Dr. Richard Tolbert (former Chairman of the National Investment Commission);Bomi County Sen. Morris Saytumah, former Lands and Mines Minister, Dr. Eugene; former Senate Pro Tempore Cletus Wotorsonand former Lofa County Sen. Sumo Kupee
Others are Prof. Willie Belleh, former Chairman of the Public Procurement & Concessions Commission, and Mr. Ernest C.B. Jones, former Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy.
The Global Witness report shows the following transactions:
That on April 22, 2010, Two Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (US $200,000.00) was paid by Sable Mining through its lawyer, Cllr. Varney Sherman, intended for the Convention of the ruling Unity Party.
That on April 23, 2010, Fifty Thousand United States Dollars (US$50,000.00) for Dr. Richard Tolbert, Chairman of Liberia’s National Investment Commission (NIC);
That on April 26, 2010, a payment of Fifty Thousand United States Dollars (US $50,000.00) was made to Cllr. Morris Saytumah;
That on July 29, 2010, Five Thousand United States Dollars (US$5,000.00) was paid to Hon. Cletus Wotorson as Consulting Fees;
That on July 29, 2010, a payment of Five Thousand United States Dollars (US $5,000.00) was made to Mr. Sumo Kupee as consulting fees;
That on August 23, 2010, Five Thousand Five Hundred United States Dollars (US $5,500.00) was paid to Ernest C. B. Jones, then Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy for Operations;
That on June 6, 2010, a payment of Ten Thousand United States Dollars (US $10,000.00) was made to Mr. Willie Belleh of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission. To be continued–By Othello B. Garblah