Indicted U.K.-based mining firm Sable Mining Africa and its executive Mr. Andrew Groves are contesting against Liberian prosecutors’ efforts for extradition to face multiple criminal charges, arguing that crimes charged by Liberian authorities are not covered by the 1892 extradition treaty between Liberia and Great Britain.
Mr. Groves and Sable Mining were jointly indicted in June along with Liberia’s House Speaker Alex Tyler, former ruling Unity Party Chair H. Varney G. Sherman, Mr. Ernest C.B. Jones and Nigerian national Chris Onanuga, following Global Witness’ claims of bribing officials and influencing the passage of a 2010 restated Public Procurement and Concession Commission or PPCC Act.
The accused were indicted for bribery, criminal conspiracy, economic sabotage, criminal facilitation and solicitation, based on Global Witness’ claims that Sable Mining offered over US$950,000 in bribes to past and present Liberian officials to pass the PPCC Act and declared Wologizi Mine a non-bidding concession in favor of Sable Mining.
In a Legal Memorandum filed with the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia Wednesday morning, 10 August, the company’s counsels claimed flaws in the indictment and cited specific crimes listed as grounds for granting an extradition between Liberia and Great Britain.
Last week, Judge Emery S. Paye suspended ruling on a motion to dismiss the indictment after prosecution and defense arguments, and asked the two sides to submit their legal memorandum.
During last week’s argument, prosecution had contended that the defendants’ motion to dismiss indictment was premature on grounds that they had not been served with the indictment and writ of arrest.
According to the prosecution, Mr. Groves and Sable Mining could not challenge the jurisdiction of the court through a motion to dismiss by means of a special appearance, but that they must be arrested and brought under the jurisdiction of the court before such motion could be entertained by the court.
However, the defendants’ Legal Memorandum lists forgery or altering what is forged; embezzlement or larceny; malicious injury to property if the offence is indictable; obtaining money, goods or valuable securities by false pretenses and receiving money, valuable security or other property, knowing the same to have been stolen, embezzled or unlawfully obtained.
It further lists fraud by a bailee, banker, agent, factor, trustee, director, member or public officer of any company, made criminal by any law for the time being in force.
The Legal Memorandum also lists murder, attempt or conspiracy to murder; manslaughter; assault occasioning actual bodily harm; maliciously wounding or inflicting grievous bodily harm; counterfeiting or altering money or uttering counterfeit or altered money and knowingly making any instrument, tool or engine adapted and intended for counterfeiting coin, among others.
Sable Mining and Mr. Groves’ lawyers Cllrs. Sayma Syrenius Cephus and Edwin Kla Martin are raising contention in the Legal Memorandum that defendant Groves is neither a Liberian citizen nor a businessman residing here.
The counsels claim that Mr. Groves has no link or connections with public officials in Liberia and did not know the processes and procedures regarding law enactments in Liberia.
As to Sable Mining, the counsel contend that it is not registered or incorporated under the laws of Liberia and has no Liberian shareholder, board member, agents or representatives based in Liberia or own office in Liberia.
Rather, the counsel say the company is a foreign corporation with foreign shareholders and board of directors; and that it did not participate in the drafting, review or submission of the restated and amended PPCC Act of 2010 to the Legislature.
They also claim that the company did not benefit in any form from the passage of the PPCC Act of 2010.
Montserrado County Attorney Cllr. Darku Mulbah had dismissed defense’s concerns over the issue of statute of limitation, saying government did not indict the accused until 2016 when Global Witness made its report, saying it was when the crimes were discovered.
He cited sections of the Criminal Procedure Law as reliance, which provides that prosecution may be commenced within two years after the discovery of the offense by the injured person, in this case, the Republic of Liberia; even though the five years prescribed in Section 4.2 had expired. Editing by Jonathan Browne