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GeneralLiberia news

Verdier leaked Weah, others’ assets

-LACC boss

Liberian public officials are required to declare their assets upon taking office and do the same after leaving office. However, the same law does not compel them to publish unless through volition or a court subpoena. Thus, it is kept secret.

By Bridgett Milton

The assets of former President George Weah and his vice, Jewel Howard Taylor, including three of his former officials, were leaked to the public some three years ago by former Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) boss James Verdier, according to current LACC head Alexendra Zoe.

The three Weah officials were former Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, former Minister of State Nathaniel F. McGill, and former Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee.

Liberian Public officials are required by anti-graft laws to declare their assets upon taking and leaving office. However, for privacy and confidentiality reasons, only a court of competent jurisdiction can subpoena such documents in the event of a trial disputing said assets, or individuals can petition the LACC for their release through the Freedom of Information Act.

President Weah’s government handed over power on January 22 this year, but the news regarding the leakage of his assets only made headlines a few days ago. This prompted the House of Representatives to summon former LACC boss Cllr. Edward Martins and current boss Zoe explain how the former president and his lieutenants’ assets were leaked to the public.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Mme Zoe alleged that President Weah and his former lieutenants’ assets were leaked by her predecessor, James Verdier.

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Mme Zoe narrated that upon receipt of the House’s invitation to explain how records on the assets of these individuals were leaked, she immediately conducted an internal investigation, and it was established that there was a leakage of assets declaration some two to three years ago by Mr. Verdier just before he could leave office.

Mme Zoe added that there were traces of email exchanges between the former LACC boss and the asset deceleration team for verification purposes.

The House of Representatives invited the LACC bosses after Montserrado County District#9 Representative Frank Saah Foko brought to the plenary’s attention that on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, Spoon Network, on their widely followed Talk Show, released the Asset Declaration Form of former President Weah.

According to Rep. Foko, while the exercise is good, the LACC Act of 2022 is clearly guided by confidentiality, necessitating accuracy and compliance with legal standards.

“Asset declaration in no way constrains individuals to publish their assets as such. Pres. Weah opted not to publish, and the same with Pres. Joseph N. Boakai. The law says one can declare but doesn’t force anyone to publish except doing so of one’s own volition.”

He said it would interest you to note that Cllr. Kla Martin, the former LACC boss who was removed after a new Act came into force on March 21, 2021, told media outlets he had no record of former President George Weah filing for assets. That was fact-tracked to be false and misleading, as GAC confirmed that the former President declared his Assets.

He said since this confirmation and Martin’s subsequent court appeals plus appointment to the Asset Recovery Team as Head, former Pres. Weah Asset declaration form is now available in the public space and on various platforms.

But responding to Rep. Foko’s assertions, Cllr. Martin said he was very clear when speaking to journalists and that he did not see former President Weah’s asset deceleration.

Meanwhile, the House has instructed its Committee on Judiciary and National Security to report to plenary within two weeks. -Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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