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US$321K chokes Boakai’s Assets Recovery Team

- as members report Chairperson to President, others

Boakai’s team, tasked with recovering stolen state assets and wealth, has been entangled in allegations of questionable transactions just before it can recover the first stolen dime on behalf of the state.

By Lincoln G. Peters

Even before Boakai’s Assets Recovery and Property Retriever Taskforce can recover the first dime for the state, tension has begun brewing between the Taskforce chairman, Cllr. Edward Kla Martins and two of its members. The latter accuses the chairman of engaging in questionable expenditures totaling US$321,000.

One of Cllr. Martins’ accusers. Martin K. N. Kollie in a letter to Cllr. Martins, copies of which were sent to President Boakai, Taskforce advisor Mr. Alex Coffey and Justice Minister Cllr. J. Oswald Tweh raised concerns about some questionable expenditures and unauthorized transactions allegedly carried out by Cllr. Martins, which amount to US321,000. 

In his letter dated May 5, 2024, Mr. Kollie described the alleged transactions as hasty and unauthorized. He also questioned the hasty seizure of the Gracious Ride fleet of vehicles and the secret crafting of the Taskforce’s budget, which was unknown to most members.

He listed a US9,800 per month billboard contract and the signing of a lease agreement valued at US311,200 as some of the expenditures Cllr. Martin unilaterally undertook the task without consulting the rest of the task force members.

Kollie wonders how Cllr. Martin would spend a total of US321,000 out of a budget of 750,000 just to secure office space and a billboard space at US9,800 per month for a job the task force has yet to start.

Cllr. Martins’ second accuser, Mr. Emmanuel Gonquoi, Commander in Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighter of Liberia, tendered his resignation from the Assets Retriever team, citing alleged corruption, leadership deficit, greed, and unilateral decision-making by Cllr. Martins in running the affairs of the task force.

Gonquoi warned President Boakai would achieve nothing from the team as long as Cllr. Martins remains the head while urging for a reconstitution of the team. He said his call for the reconstitution of the team is because the chairperson has allegedly demonstrated that it’s all about the money instead of service to the country, integrity, and fighting and discouraging corruption.

Kollie, in his May 5, 2024, communication, noted that the Assert Recovery Taskforce has failed to achieve anything substantial under Chairman Cllr. Martins’ administration because of a lack of communication and coordination.

He further argued that the team had not achieved anything due to the lack of consensus, commonality, and methodology, the chairman’s refusal to prioritize expertise over inadequacy, and the lack of leadership and clear vision.

” The abrupt and arbitrary arrest and seizure of Gracious Ride, the hasty and unauthorized expenditure of US$9,800 per month for billboards, the crafting of the team budget to date—some of us have not seen that fiscal instrument as though it’s a society bush, the signing of a US$311,200 lease agreement to rent an office space without even discussing it with anyone—” according to him, are indications that the chairman is acting alone.

According to him, he learned about the signing of the US$311,200 lease agreement through a text message from Cllr. Martins informing him about the deal.

” Mr. Chairman, on what basis was this done? How come? Who also authorized this? Did you exhaust the PPCC framework or regulations? Did the committee authorize this expenditure and all other expenditures?” Mr. Kollie quipped.

” I would like to call for a full disclosure of all financial transactions since March 2024 through a comprehensive report. It’s our right as members to know because our repetitions are tied to this team. We give you a two-month grace period to do the needful. No more. We will sit back and watch this happen, ” he concluded. -Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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