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In NEC chair trial: LACC fights to dismiss motion

State prosecutors have filed a counter-motion requesting Criminal Court “C” Judge T. Ciapha Carey to dismiss a motion by lawyers representing National Elections Commission (NEC) chair Mrs. Davidetta Browne Lansanah, which seeks dismissal of the trial.

The NEC had earlier filed a motion seeking a complete dismissal of the entire case on grounds that the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) lacks the legal backing to prosecute the crime-insider trading on the basis that the law has not been enacted and that the court itself lacks jurisdiction over the matter.

But the LACC says the case as it relates to insider trading and market manipulation is in violation of the Code of Conduct consistent with Part XVII: Criminal Offence, therefore it is acting properly.

The Liberian anti-graft commission also insists that the court has jurisdiction over the case because the statute which creates the Criminal Court “C” confers such jurisdiction.

But NEC boss lawyers’ argument here is that the alleged crime of insider trading has not been enacted into law and has not been penalized under Liberian statutory laws and therefore their client cannot and should not plead to the alleged crime of insider trading.

The lawyers also argued that the court does not have any jurisdiction over their client as it relates to the violation of the Code of Conduct for public officials because the Code of Conduct provides its own disciplinary processes in the event where there is an infringement /breach of the Code in Part XIV Section 14.1.”

They defended their argument by propounding that Part XII of the very Code of Conduct provides for the creation of the office of an Ombudsman: section 12.1 of the Code of Conduct states: “The office of an Ombudsman is hereby established as an independent autonomous body which shall be responsible for the enforcement, oversight, monitoring and evaluation of the adherence to the code of Conduct”

But state prosecutors in their motion have countered argued that the LACC acted properly in the absence and the creation of the office of the Ombudsman it acted in its stead.

However, the NEC’s arguments are: (1) that “insider trading” is not a cognizable crime under Liberian law; and (2) that under the national code of conduct, the ombudsman has the sole authority to receive and investigate complaints of alleged violations and impose sanction.

The lawyers’ argument here is that while “insider trading” is mentioned in the LACC act and the anti-money laundering act, that mention is conditional first because those acts do not define what constitutes insider trading, neither do they say what the penalty is. Next, the money laundering act in section 15 lists several predicate offenses and says as may be provided in the penal code or other Liberian laws.

They maintained, being aware that the Liberian law doesn’t provide any definition and penalty of what insider trading is, the LACC (in the indictment) cited the definition of insider trading from Black’s law dictionary-arguing that this is unacceptable, especially in matters of criminal allegations.

Moreover, the LACC did not dispute that the Code vests jurisdiction in the ombudsman to receive and investigate complaints of the alleged violation and impose sanctions. Instead, the LACC argues that in the absence of the ombudsman, it can act.

However, the problem with this argument, legal experts explained is that in matters of public laws, a party/commission can’t assume authority unto itself. That authority must be stated in the law, in this case, the Code.

They assert that assuming but without agreeing the LACC could act in the absence of the ombudsman, does the Code give criminal court “C” jurisdiction to impose the Code’s administrative sanctions on a person? There’s absolutely no provision in the Code for the criminal court to impose and/or judicially review the imposition of the Code’s administrative sanctions.

On March 8, lawyers representing Mrs. Browne-Lansanah filed a motion asking Judge Carey to dismiss the case saying, the alleged crime of insider trading upon which the LACC is prosecuting their client has not been enacted.

The LACC thru its Executive Chairperson Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, indicted Madam Browne Lansanah for alleged conflict of interest and corruption.

A report had it in November 2021 that the NEC under the supervision of Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah during the November 16, 2021 by-elections in four counties, rented thermometers from a company called Tuma Enterprises Inc., allegedly owned by her brothers for over US$180,000 outside of government procurement regulations.

She was charged and indicted for the alleged crime of insider trading in violation of Part II, Section 2.2 of the 2008 Corruption Acts establishing the LACC.


The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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