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In the beginning Navigating the dirty waters of Maritime (Pt-1):

The Liberia Maritime program was established in 1948, thanks to former US Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, who played a key role along with President William V.S. Tubman during the early days of the US Central Intelligent Agency or CIA.

The group established the Registered Agent Office in New York City to register ships and corporations under the Liberian flag. The ideal was that the program needed to be run in the U.S. because corruption prevented it from being run here. And so it was headquartered on Park Avenue in New York. But little did they know that 68 years later, this very corruption would have brought it down to its knees.

Documentary traces revealed that the program was conceived for Liberia by the U.S. government to allow the U.S. manage Liberia as a colony. From its onset the program generated approximately US24 million each year.

On March 11, 1949 the first commercial vessel, called World Peace and chartered to the Getty Oil Company, was registered. When Stettinius died in 1950, the ownership of Liberian Services and its affiliates passed to the International Bank (IB) of Washington, DC. IB had intelligence connections and was developed through the efforts of General George Olmsted.

The registry was contracted out to The International Trust Company. Over the following four decades, the easy registration system made Liberia the number one registry in the world. Liberia’s government was the first to contract out its administration of a shipping registry to a private company. During the war, Liberia depended heavily on the maritime funds, accounting for some 70% of government revenue. Due to the war in Liberia in the 1990s, Liberia fell to second place — after Panama — after Panama and Honduras began “open registry” programs. After the civil war of 1990, International Registries, Inc., (as Liberian Services had become) entered into an agreement with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, to develop a new maritime program. International Registries, Inc. (IRI) was formed in 1990 as the parent corporation for its affiliates and in 1993 IRI became a privately held company owned and operated by its senior employees.

Documents available to this paper indicates that when Charles Taylor took over the government, he upset the US government by signing a new contract for the program with Liberian International Ship & Corporate Registry (LISCR).

Controversy of corruption erupted during the interim regime of the late Charles Gyude Bryant when Edward Schneider, a rebel appointee headed Maritime. Since then the Liberian Maritime, now the Liberian Bureau of Maritime has become a subject of investigation. Coming up next how the system has been set up for plunder long after the founding fathers.

By Othello B. Garblah

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