The Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has dismissed an economic sabotage indictment against Liberia’s former Commerce Minister Madam Miatta Beysolow on grounds that an investigative report suggested administrative action into a Japanese Oil Grant scandal.
A counsel for prosecution representing Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC Cllr. Othello S. Payment told reporters outside court Wednesday, 20 July that the court said the report had called for administrative action, and not criminal prosecution.
Concerning the LACC’s action against the alleged scandal, Madam Beysolow’s counsels had argued that the entity’s investigative report recommended administrative action against the indictee, but the anti-graft commission had clarified in court that it withdrew the initial report and conducted criminal investigation that resulted to the indictment of the defendants.
After the court’s ruling, Cllr. Paymah took exception and announced an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia, which the court granted. Cllr. Paymah told reporters that prosecution will still prosecute the rest of the defendants in the Japanese Oil Grant case that were indicted along with Madam beysolow.
Madam Beysolow had requested the court presided over by Judge Emery S. Paye to dismiss the indictment after she had been granted separate trial in the case for economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and violation of required Public Procurement and Concession Commission or PPCC procedures and processes.
Madam Beysolow and former Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC Managing Director Mr. T. Nelson Williams; LPRC’s former deputy managing director for operations Mr. Aaron J. Wheagar and Commerce Ministry’s former director for the division of price analysis and marketing Mr. Steve Fahn-Paye were jointly indicted by government.
She and the rest of the indictees were accused of allegedly depriving government of US$5,764,110.84 which is a portion of US$13,083,350 from proceeds of a Japanese Oil Grant to Liberia. But her counsels raised contentions that she was not in the country at the time the alleged crimes were committed; and that she did not face any investigation prior to being indicted.
The defense counsels had said unlike other defendants in the case whose offenses were pointed out, prosecution accused Madam Beysolow of allegedly conspiring and conniving. They argued that when a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU was being signed by the Commerce Ministry and others, Madam Beysolow was not in the country.
But prosecution said Madam Beysolow and defendant Paye conspired with Mr. Williams, Wheagar and implementing agent of the Japanese Oil Grant and Aminata and Sons in August 2011 … and deprived government of US$3,908,367.25.
The LACC had insisted that Madam Beysolow’s role was to supervise and ensure that the cheating that was ongoing at the Ministry of Commerce did not occur; noting that failure to reverse the action of her deputy was “a conspiracy of silence.”
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne