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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGNERS WANT LIBERIA’S RICHEST MAN BENONI UREY ARRESTED AND PROSECUTED FOR WAR AND ECONOMIC CRIMES

Date:

LIBERIA – International campaigners ‘Warlord Accountability Project’ has launched a major campaign to have Liberia’s richest man arrested and prosecuted for war and economic crimes.

‘Warlord Accountability Project’ is turning all screws to bring Mr. Benoni Urey, a former Commissioner of Liberia’s lucrative Maritime Authority and confidante of a convicted war criminal, Charles Taylor to justice.

For years, the group in a campaign video said Urey allegedly escaped his crimes with impunity; but pointed out that his past is catching up with him.

As maritime commissioner, he was involved in money laundering and terror financing, the campaigners said.

Citing UN reports, ‘Warlord Accountability Project’ indicated that Urey allegedly bought weapons from notorious arms dealer Victor Bout; and that the arms purchased by him were used in the Liberian civil war to allegedly commit genocide against women, children, and minority groups.

In most recent years, the campaigners disclosed that Urey desperately tried to launder his image by spending millions of his “ill-gotten wealth to get back to power and avoid accountability, but that his efforts are failing.”

Each day, according to the group, there is an increasing moment in Washington, Brussels and The Hague to bring him down.

It is not a question of if Urey will pay for his crimes; it’s a matter of when, said ‘Warlord Accountability’.

A United Nations Panel of Experts investigation had found out that Urey, as Commissioner of the Liberia Maritime program allegedly diverted funds from its lucrative shipping registry to buy arms in violation of U.N. sanctions, and had failed to take measures to end such abuses.

The panel of experts, in a report, said irregularities persisted in the Bureau of Maritime Affairs, whose books had not been audited since 1988, the duration of his reign at the agency.

When panel members wanted to examine accounts they were told: “the generator had broken down.”

But they were shown some figures from the Finance Ministry, the Central Bank, and the shipping registry’s agent, a U.S. company based in Vienna, Va. “None of the figures match with each other, and they show significant discrepancies, illustrating the urgent need for independent auditing and oversight,” said the panel’s report, obtained by Reuters.

The panel was set up by the U.N. Security Council to investigate the effectiveness of a ban on arms sales, an embargo on Liberian diamond exports, and a travel ban on then-Liberian President Charles Taylor and top associates.

Liberia had been accused of fueling the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone by supporting that country’s rebels in a gems-for-arms trade, partly to enrich some officials.

The UN expert panel called for an extension of the arms embargo on Liberia, saying it had found “credible evidence” that Liberia was still buying arms and providing new weaponry to its soldiers in violation of the embargo, even as Sierra Leone moved toward peace after a decade of civil war.

At the time, the panel said it remained “concerned” about the activities of the shipping registry which was supervised by the Urey Maritime Commission, although it made no recommendation about imposing sanctions on the registry.

In an October 2001 report, the panel identified four suspicious payments made by the registry’s agent, the Liberian International Ship, and Corporate Registry, to nongovernmental accounts and said it believed Monrovia had used the money to buy arms to help fuel civil war in Sierra Leone.

The U.S.-owned and -operated company that manages the day-to-day operations of Liberia’s ship registry, collecting fees from the more than 1,700 ships that fly the Liberian flag at the time. It contributes about $18 million a year to Liberia’s budget.

After the earlier report, the Liberian government promised audits and other measures to assure funds were not diverted and asked the Liberian Central Bank to take over the accounts of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs.

But the panel said the reforms had not been carried out. The panel said that Sanjivan Ruprah, a Kenyan national, previously identified by the United Nations as a key figure in the illicit arms and diamond trade in West Africa, had traveled under diplomatic passports identifying him as the bureau’s deputy commissioner.

Benoni Urey, the Liberian commissioner of maritime affairs at the time, had repeatedly denied bureau involvement in arms deals and insisted that Ruprah had nothing to do with his business.

But the panel said it had evidence that Ruprah signed letters as the deputy commissioner and “maintained a close relationship with Urey.”

Ruprah was arrested in Brussels and charged with association with a criminal organization and possession of false passports.

Under the George Weah regime, Urey is said to be trying to hustle his way back to political power by allegedly renegotiating marriage with the ruling CDC without officially leaving his ALP party, said sources knowledgeable of the alleged scheme.

By trying to reestablish his relationship with president Weah, he filed a criminal suit against his own coalition partner, Alexander Cummings, the main opposition to Weah in the 2023 elections, according to sources.

The Liberian government has since dropped the case against the Alternative National Congress Standard Bearer. But the ALP and Urey are claiming foul play, insinuating the Solicitor General did not inform them of his decision in the magisterial court.

Political analysts say the suit against Cummings was a “Vail” attempt by Mr. Urey to whitewash his image against a much cleaner politician like the former Coke executive, Cummings.

Proponents of the prosecution of war criminals in Liberia believe, that by such a scheme, Mr. Urey who managed to escape from sanction, is now attempting to return to political power as a means of prolonging his arrest.

Now, ‘Warlord Accountability Project’ has launched a YouTube campaign to properly identify Mr. Urey and espouse all of his alleged crimes committed against the people of Liberia and Sierra Leone; and as well as put leaders of nations around the world on full alert to arrest Mr. Urey anywhere and anytime.

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smartnews
Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet, a product of Smart Media Group Inc. smartnewsliberia.com publishes a wide range of content including politics, business, sports, and entertainment on and about Liberia. Contact: +231777425285/ 886946925 Email: info@smartnewsliberia.com/ smartnewsliberia@gmail.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. Smart News you are far from smart. All your facts are wrong and Misleading. The UN never charged Mr. Urey with what you said they did. Nor did the TRC. You all need to stop posting misleading information for monetary or political gains. We know the Senators who are behind this. Let them continue to dream. Dreams are free and this one they are having will never materialise.

  2. This allegations are all lies. The Smart new should try to factual as it relates on information to the public and when you guys are doing research we expect you to do it properly and follow the entire story.
    I expect the Smart news to know by now that this alleged allegations was investigated by the United Nations, of which they find out that Mr. Urey was
    innocent of the of what he was excuse off, and Mr. Urey name was removed from sanctioned list

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