Following his return from a fact-finding mission to the United Kingdom and the United States of America, the head of the special taskforce set up by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to probe the Global Witness report, linking several Liberian officials to alleged bribery, Cllr. Jonathan Fonati Koffa, has disclosed here the taskforce is 80 percent close to identifying the two highest alleged bribe recipients mentioned in the report as “Big Boy 1 and Big Boy 2.” According to the report, the officials under these pseudo names received US$150,000 each.
The Government of Liberia has already indicted several officials following the set-up of the taskforce, including House Speaker Alex Tyler and Senator Varney Sherman, chairman of the governing Unity Party in connection with the Global Witness’ claims.
The GW reported in May that several former and current officials of the Liberian Government allegedly received over US$950 million bribe from a British firm – Sable Mining to amend Liberian concession laws in its favor to explore the Wologis Mine in the northern region.
Cllr. Koffa, also current Minister of State Without Portfolio, recently led a three-member delegation to the U.K. and the U.S. to gather more evidence on the allegation. He told reporters Tuesday, 5th July in a weekly press briefing at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism on Capitol Hill the taskforce will prosecute all indictees based on evidence gathered so far, and not on public sentiments. “We understand that people want quick judgment, but we are following the laws in order to have perfect judgment”, he added.
He says the delegation went abroad to set up proper evidence that will prove the wrongdoing of those that are indicted, stressing “Because an indictment is a charge for crime; during our investigation over there, we gathered sufficient evidence.”
Cllr. Koffa says the fact that the taskforce has indicted some of those officials mentioned in the report, means it has enough evidence to indict others, while disclosing there are plans to increase the charges against three of the indictees and to indict few more persons.
“Our trip to the UK, and USA did allow us to hold meeting with Sable Mining Company on their involvement in Liberia, because Sable Mining is a foreign firm in a foreign country; we did not go to have a meeting with any criminal activities. We will see Sable Mining in our court, so we not going to listen to them to give their sad of the matter – that was not our target, because we understand that they have no hands in this case”, he explains.
Meanwhile, the chief investigator of the taskforce, Montserrado County Attorney Darku Mulbah, has assured Liberians to come out with a comprehensive result at the end of the probe. Attorney Mulbah said the visit to the UK and the USA was necessary because the taskforce is not going after any second hand information in this case, noting “Whenever someone is accused he or she has a right to go to court, and as prosecutor, you have to weigh the matters to allow the accused to exonerate themselves, that is why many whose names were mentioned are not brought forth.”
By Lewis S. Teh -Editing by Jonathan Browne