Liberia’s former Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar M. Findley says at no time did he instruct the indicted former Director of Passport & Visas, Mr. Andrew Wonplo to trade Liberian Passports to non-Liberians.
“I must indicate categorically that at no time did I, Amb. Gbehzohngar M. Findley, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia, instruct the former Director of Passport & Visas, Mr. Andrew Wonplo to trade Liberian Passports to non-Liberians,” Mr. Findley stated Thursday, 24 September.
The authorities here claim that Mr. Wonplo and 10 other defendants caused the government to lose over US$30,000 through illegal sales of Liberian passports to non – Liberians, as well as people looking for space to travel to the United States and Canada who were willing to pay as much as US$2,000 each for a Liberian Passport.
He was recently re-indicted after the U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo earlier announced on 10 September the public designation of Liberia’s former Director of Passport and Visas Andrew Wonplo, “due to his involvement in significant corruption,” making Wonplo and his immediate family members ineligible for entry into the United States.
In the wake of Mr. Wonplo’s recent revelations attempting to link Mr. Findley and other top officials to the passport scandal, the former Foreign Minister says he is constrained to respond to the “outlandish comments oozing out of the unfounded accounts from the former Director of Passport & Visas, Mr. Andrew Wonplo.”
Findley explains that his service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Republic of Liberia was characterized by service to country, commitment to duty, strengthening bilateral and multilateral relationships, upholding the rule of law, and dedication to delivering the statutory mandate of the Ministry.
He insists that he did this to the best of his ability in conformity with law.
Mr. Findley argues that noteworthy is the fact that as per the Executive Laws on the issuance of Liberian Passports, a Liberian passport is an official document issued by the Government of Liberia by which the bearer is recognized in foreign countries either as a Liberian citizen, an honorary consul, a diplomatic agent or emissary designated by the President of the Republic of Liberia or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Consistent with this provision, he says the Republic of Liberia has had, and continues to have, Honorary Consuls representing its relations in varied countries and states.
He names Liberia’s Honorary Consul to Florida, Mr. David Straz who contributed US$1Million for the construction of a US$2Million Polytechnic Project in Sinje (named after him in 2016) but died on November 18, 2019, Italy, Spain, Saudi Arabia, among others, who by law are entitled to Diplomatic Passports.
“The aforementioned is a separate case from the unfounded claims of the former Director of Passport & Visas, Mr. Andrew Wonplo, that Liberian Passports were traded to non-Liberians,” Findley says.
According to the former chief diplomat, applicants for Diplomatic Passports must give written proof or evidence that they are employees of the Government of Liberia with a rank or status as contained in these Regulations or individuals who are or may be required or assigned to serve the Republic of Liberia as diplomatic emissaries to foreign nations or Governments.
He says further that they must show proof that a specific waiver of these requirements have been approved by the Minister of Foreign Affairs or a dispensation given by the President of the Republic of Liberia, adding that the dispensation was at no time abused, but legally utilized under the discharge of his statutory functions.
“As such, I am bewildered by the unprovoked outburst from Mr. Wonplo wherein he’s making claims that he smartly designed as a retaliation to his re-indictment, as well as his designation by the Government of the United States of America,” Findley says.
The Grand Bassa County Senatorial aspirant says his bid for the senatorial race in the county is not his decision, but the overwhelming decision of the good loving people of Grand Bassa County, his birth place.
According to Findley, when he served them, he did so with dedication, selflessness, love for county and country, and above all, patriotism to the Republic of Liberia.
“These interventions, they’ve realized, have greatly impacted the citizenry; which is why they have solicited my consent to return to the Senate; and this solicitation I have embraced for the good of Grand Bassa,” he continues.
Findley indicates that his deeds can clearly speak for him, and no chicanery can thwart the resolve of the peace loving people of Grand Bassa County.