Multiple emails contain in an affidavit sworn by South African Businessman Heine Jan Van Niekerk submitted before the court of records in the ongoing Sable Mining bribery case show how Cllr. Varney Sherman allegedly organized former government officials to alter the country’s mining law in favor of Sable, a British company.
The case originates from a 2016 Global Witness report, titled “The Deceivers”, which alleges that several former government officials received bribes to the tone of USD950, 000 to alter a mining law in favor of Sable Mining, which sought a business deal here through Cllr. Varney Sherman, now Senator of Grand Capemount.
Key defense lawyers, Justice Minister Musa Dean, Solicitor General designate Syrenus Cephus, and Montserrado County Attorney, Edward K. Martins in the case under the regime of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, are today heading the country’s Justice Department with their names still on the court dockets as defense counsels.
Sometime last month, the court threatens to dismiss the case after several requests by the defendants’ counsels who have now turned prosecutors for more time to enable them gathered their evidence.
In one of the purported email exchanges between Cllr. Varney Sherman and Mr. WillieBelleh, Mr. Belleh allegedly wrote informing Cllr. Sherman that the PPCC Act finally got revised and that the documents to revise the country’s mining laws were altered and President Sirleaf was in fact the person who approved the revised document before ordering that it be sent at the National Legislature.
Some legal pundits have expressed concerns that the current corps of Justice Officials in the country may just let Sen. Sherman and others walked out of the case as free men.
It could be recalled in a case Bridgeway Corporation and CitiBank, an American Bank in 2000, Cllr. Sherman testified that the Liberian Judiciary system is so corrupt that it makes difficult for anyone to get a fair trial.
Thus with the ongoing bribery trial in the Global Witness case against Sen. Sherman and others, legal experts fear that Sherman and others may just walk away free since those now prosecuting them were once their defense counsels.
Recent appearances made by Justice Ministry officials at the court in the Sable Mining case appears to show less interest by these officials due to what may now be considered as a conflict of interest. There are reports that President Weah’s acclaimed fight against corruption could be dented by this case as for counsels of the accused may use their current portfolios to set their clients free.
The Global Witness report alleges that Sable Mining Africa, Ltd. acquired stake in Delta Mining, which was operating in Liberia, and devised a scheme and system to bribe officials to change the procurement laws in order for Sable Mining to obtain prized mineral concessions below market prices, with eye on the Wologizi Mountain range in Lofa County.
The report alleges further that through its lawyer in Liberia, Cllr. Varney Sherman, Sable was able to pay bribes and make other questionable payments to key officials of the Liberian Government. Sable Mining officials themselves also made some of these payments directly, the report said.
Emails exchanges which have been submitted before the court showed how the money was distributed among these former government officials including former House Speaker Alex Tyler, former National Investment Commission boss Dr. Richard Tolbert, Dr. Richard Tolbert (former Chairman of the National Investment Commission); Bomi County Sen. Morris Saytumah, former Lands and Mines Minister, Dr. Eugene; former Senate Pro Tempore Cletus Wotorson and former Lofa County Sen. Sumo Kupee
Others are Prof. Willie Belleh, former Chairman of the Public Procurement & Concessions Commission, and Mr. Ernest C.B. Jones, former Deputy Minister of Lands, Mines & Energy.
The Global Witness report shows the following transactions:
That on April 22, 2010, Two Hundred Thousand United States Dollars (US $200,000.00) was paid by Sable Mining through its lawyer, Cllr. Varney Sherman, intended for the Convention of the ruling Unity Party.-To be continue.By Othello B. Garblah