Sanctioned officials to face probe
As Weah announces suspension
Just day after the U.S Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated three top officials of the Weah administration for involvement in ongoing public corruption, the Executive Mansion here says President George Manneh Weah has suspended the named officials with immediate effect to face investigation.
This is the shortest time in recent history the President has swiftly moved to reprimand officials indicted for corruption. He had previously defended officials indicted in audit reports here.
Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, the Managing Director of the National Port Authority Bill Twehway, and Solicitor General Seyma Cyrenius Cephus were designated on Monday, 15 August by the United States Government pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.)13818 that builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, specifically targeting perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.
President Weah has also designated the principal deputies of the suspended officials to act in their stead.
The Executive Mansion furthers that President Weah received with serious concern, the United States Treasury Department report, which designates three of his officials for specialized sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act.
“President Weah views the allegations against the officials contained in the report as grave”, a press release issued by the Executive Mansion Tuesday, 16 August reads.
The U.S. Government stressed that as a result of Monday’s action, all property and interests in property of the three officials that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to the OFAC.
Besides, it maintains that any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked and that OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
It further warns that persons that engage in certain transactions with the individuals and entities designated may themselves be exposed to sanctions or be subjected to enforcement action and that unless an exception applies, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for any of the individuals or entities designated similarly risk U.S. sanctions.
The OFAC explains that building upon the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, E.O. 13818 was issued on December 20, 2017, in recognition that the prevalence of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, had reached such scope and gravity as to threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.
It notes that human rights abuse and corruption undermine the values that form an essential foundation of stable, secure, and functioning societies; have devastating impacts on individuals; weaken democratic institutions; degrade the rule of law; perpetuate violent conflicts; facilitate the activities of dangerous persons; undermine economic markets.
Hence, the United States seeks to impose tangible and significant consequences on those who commit serious human rights abuse or engage in corruption, as well as to protect the financial system of the United States from abuse by these same persons.
However, it notes that the ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior and that the power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List but also from its willingness to remove persons from the list consistent with law.
The three newly designated Liberian officials and other officials previously listed could take advantage of such opportunity to exonerate themselves from wrath of the United States government.
This is a positive move hopping it is not politically timed. It reminds me of Allison in the days of Doe. The proven way to bring down a ruler is to distance him from his most royal supporters. Remember the story of the three cows?
Obviously the President must have seen the facts to convince him suspend the three. As much as we want action, justice demands an opportunity for the accused to be proven guilty. The burden is on the US and Liberia governments.
In 2003, the same international community stated that Taylor had $6,000,000,000 in foreign accounts. This is the equivalent of about fifteen year pre-war GOL budget. After Taylor left, we never heard about that money. What we hear now is the international community spent $6b on Liberia; is it the same money?
Again, several individuals have been sanctioned including Urey, Johnson, Sherman etc without $1 ever being returned to Liberia. What ever happens to the alleged corrupted funds, we are never told.
We think it is time the US government make some clarification of these stolen funds. We just don’t want sanctions, we need the resources as much. Keeping the funds in the US which benefits your economy and deprives the Liberians of life saving resources is unfair and unjust. Do not make this look like a pre-election move.
The developed world is in the habit of accepting stolen money from poor countries knowing fully well the questionable sources of the funds. Billions and billions of stolen funds are held by these so called moral countries while citizens from these poor countries die of preventable conditions.
It is about time we discuss the whereabouts of funds stolen from Liberia.
Thanks to the US for weakening this debate.