Ex-Commerce Minister Madam Miatta Beyslow
The Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has granted a US$2m criminal appearance bond in favor of ex-Commerce Minister Madam MiattaBeyslow, the former Managing Director of the Liberian Petroleum Refining Company (LPRC) Mr. T. Nelson Williams, and other ex-officials following their indictment in February for embezzling over US$5m.
Prosecutors say the indicteesallegedly deprived government portion of proceeds from the distribution of Japanese oil grant valued US$13,083,350 donated to Liberia for the supply of an expected quantity of 15,000 MT [metric ton] of petroleum products for economic and social development efforts.
Liberia’s Anti-Corruption Commission or LACC indicted Madam Beyslow and Mr. Williams this year, including Commerce Ministry’s division of price analysis and marketing director Mr. Steve Flahn-Paye; LPRC’s deputy managing director for operations Aaron J. Wheagar and Aminata and Sons’ CEO SiakaTuray for allegedly embezzling US$5,764,110.84.
They are charged with economic sabotage, misapplication of entrusted property, criminal conspiracy, criminal facilitation and violation of required Public Procurement and Concession Commission or PPCC procedures and processes.
Presiding Court “C” Judge A. Blamo Dixon ruled Tuesday, 5 April that the court confirmed and endorsed the bond because it was sufficient in law by virtue of the certificate issued in favor of the defendants by the Central Bank of Liberia.
“The Court shall not imprison the … defendants because their bond is sufficient in Law…” he ruled yesterday, denying prosecution’s exception against the bond. The prosecution had argued the bond was invalid, and pleaded with the court to set it aside. They have announced to take advantage of the law, after the court’s ruling confirmed the bond.
The court has placed the matter on docket for the May 2016 Term of court and has suspended hearing. The nine-count indictment claims that in August 2011, the defendants organized a conspiracy scheme and stole a total of US$5,764,110.84 from the distribution and sale of the Japanese Oil Grant, allegedly defrauding the Government of revenues.
In executing their syndicate, the defendants allegedly selected Aminata and Sons Inc., a petrol wholesale and retail dealer without a competitive bid process to distribute and sell the Japanese petroleum products in violation of PPCC’s required processes and procedures.
Several ex-officials of the Sirleaf administration are faced with court actions in connection with alleged improprieties. The former managing director of the LPRC after Mr. T. Nelson Williams, Miss Matilda Parker and her comptroller are also being prosecuted for over US$800,000.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne