Grand Cape Mount County Senator defendant H. Varney G. Sherman is protesting against the exclusion of British mining firm Sable Mining and Andrew Grooves from the economic sabotage trial of top Liberian officials who were allegedly bribed by the company to change concession laws.
“It is not required for a person to be a [rocket] scientist to conclude both the giver of the bribe and receiver are guilty,” Sherman testified Wednesday, 3 July in the economic sabotage trial for alleged US$950,000 bribe offered by Sable Mining for favorable concession laws.
Sherman believes that the trial is “merely a political witch hunt and a vendetta” submitted by former President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf, having nolleprosequi (dropped case against) the company and Mr. Grooves who allegedly bribed the defendants in the case.
The defendant, also a lawyer, is one of several top Liberian officials accused by prosecution in the bribery case, with claim particularly against defendant Sherman that as lawyer for the British mining firm, he allegedly inserted Section 75 in the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Act regarding non – bidding process favoring Sable Mining.
However, Sherman reminds the Court that the Special Presidential Task Force commissioned to investigate the claim confirmed Global Witness’ report that Sable Mining gave him (Sherman) US$450,000 to bribe various Liberian officials for the insertion of Section 75 in the amendment and restatement of the PPCC Act of 2005 that was pending enactment.
Further, he contends that Global Witness also alleged that Andrew Grooves brought US$500,000 in a luxurious and expensive brief – case, gave the amount to Dr. Eugene Shannon and Mr. E.C.B. Jones for the same purpose.
However, Sherman observes that the government has nolleprosequi Sable Mining and Andrew Grooves, and allegedly admitted that the company and Mr. Grooves did not bribe anybody in Liberia and did not commit the offense for which they were charged and indicted.
On the basis of his observation, defendant Sherman insists that the government cannot confess that the giver of the bribe committed no crime, while holding the receiver as the one who committed a crime of bribery.
He tells presiding Judge Peter W. Gbeneweleh that the defense team has the nolleprosequi filed by the Special Presidential Task Force to submit it to the judge so that he can realize that the trial is merely a political witch hunt.
Concerning non-bidding process, the accused explains that none of the Mineral Development Agreements of B.H.P Billiton, Bee Mountain Mining Corporation and Putu Iron Ore Mining Company were obtained here through competitive bidding, arguing that non-bidding process is not something new in Liberia.
Defendant Sherman argues that Global Witness tried to give wrong impression that a possible non-bidding process for the iron ore deposit of Wologisi Mountain was something new here.
“None of these Mineral Development Agreements was obtained through competitive [bid] and each was obtained in keeping [with] standing policy and procedure, and there was no impropriety in obtaining [these] Mineral Development Agreements for the other companies,” he testifies.
Sen. Sherman reveals further how he personally negotiated Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) of Putu Iron Ore Mining Company; consulted for and gave legal advice to the Bee Mountain Mining Corporation for its MDA of 2001 to AM LIB United for its 2009 MDA for mineral rights in Grand Gedeh, River Cess and Montserrado counties.
Further, he testifies that he provided legal and consultant services to B.H.P Billiton, the largest Iron Ore mining company for its own MDA of 2010.
However Sherman narrates that none of these MDAs listed here was obtained through competitive bid.
Cllr. Sherman is due to face cross examination by the prosecuting team and the case is assigned for Thursday, 4 July at 10:00AM based on the State’s request for continuance on Wednesday to allow it to digest the defendant’s lengthy testimony .By Winston W. Parley