Businessman turned politician Benoni Urey on Wednesday February 19, denied allegations that he used the Bureau of Maritime money to buy arms and ammunition for jailed former President Charles Taylor during the country’s brutal civil war.
“I Benoni Urey will never buy arms and ammunition to kill my people,” he roared during a press conference here. He described the long held speculation as total rumor saying people are in the habits of saying things they know nothing about.Mr. Urey served as Maritime Commissioner under former President Taylor and has been accused of bankrolling the war through the maritime fund.
He is currently the political leader of the All Liberian Party or ALP, a party which is part of an Alliance of four political parties that seek to unseat President George Weah in 2023.
He was placed on sanction and travel bans for many years but was later removed following series of investigations that found him posing less of a threat to the peace of Liberia.
“When I left Maritime, I was audited and investigated for almost 15 years by Homeland Security (United States) and they found nothing on me” a self-feeling vindicated Urey explained.
Mr. Urey said what he remembered was the purchasing of two ex-military helicopters for use by the police and the Presidential Security force Special Security Service or SSS now referred to as the Executive Protection Service or EPS.
He explain how
“I got a letter from the Finance Minister authorizing me to instruct the Agent (Liberia Shipping and Corporate Registry or LISCR) to transfer USD630, 000 to buy two helicopters MI-3 for the use of the police and SSS-François Massaquoi died in one. They were Ex-military helicopters.
When I got the instruction, I wrote my Comptroller and I said by directive of the President through the Finance Minister, you are hereby instructed to instruct the Agent to transfer this amount. So when this guy (Homeland Security Agent) came he asked me-Mr. Urey did you ever transferred money to buy arms and ammunition I said no, He said what about e-military helicopter, I said yes. The guy pulled out the letter and said, yes its true, I thought you would have lied and I said what is there to lie about.”
Meanwhile, Urey said he left 30 million in Maritime’s account when the late Charles Gyude Bryant took over during the interim government arrangement after Taylor was forced into exile.
He said former president Taylor at one point in time requested the money and he refused. He said the 30m included profit accrued from USD305, 000 investment in EMULSAT, a satellite use for shipping navigation device at the time. He said that investment was done thru John Morlu Sr. –Write Othello B. Garblah