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Friday, May 24, 2024

LIBERIA: WEAH’S GOV’T EXPOSES WEAKNESS IN CORRUPTION FIGHT – OVERLOOKED LACC IN INVESTIGATING US$5 MILLION

Date:

MONROVIA – After months of delays the government of George Weah through the Liberia National Police has finally cleared Makenneh Keita of the alleged US$5 million bribe she solicited from two South African investors.

Before, President Weah informed Liberians through the Executive Mansion website that he had suspended with immediate effect Madam Makenneh L. Keita, Presidential Special Projects Coordinator.

Accordingly, the release added that Madam Keita allegedly solicited US$5 million from a businessman who was exploring Investment opportunities – and then requested Madam Makenneh Keita to report to the office of the Legal Advisor to the President for investigation.

The request then by the President to have his Legal Advisor, llr. Archibald F. Bernard investigates Madam Keita came under criticism among political pundits including ordinary Liberians who saw the corruption scandal as a major case which should be investigated by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) instead of the office of the Legal Advisor.

The Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, with the legal authority to investigate corruption cases, was overlooked by President to investigate Madam Keita – the President’s decision to channel the investigation through his Legal Advisor was questioned by integrity institutions including opposition political parties. They termed President’s decision as a means of undermining the fight against corruption in the country.

However, condemning the President’s action was Archie I. Sanor. Sarnor, a former representative candidate in District 16 in Monstserrado County and a human rights advocate, in during an exclusive interview with Smart News Liberia September 2021, he  said Weah’s stance against public officials who are allegedly accused of corruption is weak, adding the President has to show political will, have public officials allegedly accused of corruption be suspended and immediately forward to Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation.

Committee setup

The investigative committee set up by President Weah to investigate Madam Makenneh Keita, Special Projects Coordinator at the Executive Mansion, accused of soliciting kickback in the tone of US$5 million from foreign investors was not concluded.

Based on the delays, Mr. Anderson Miamen, executive director of CENTAL told Smart News Liberia last year they are concerned as to why Madam Keita’s alleged corruption report is yet to be concluded and released, something he said undermines the fight against corruption.

Miamen added that Bernard’s committee it is taking too long to conclude and release the report to the public.

Cllr. Archibald F. Bernard, Legal Advisor to President Weah was tasked to investigate Madam Makenneh Keita’s corruption saga not the Liberia National Police, but the LNP last week cleared Makenneh L Keita, the Special Presidential Project Coordinator to President George Weah from allegations of soliciting US$5M from two South African who came to Liberia with the intention of investing in the country’s mineral sector in 2021.

Police Spokesman, Moses Carter addressing a news conference on Tuesday, March 22, disclosed the report of Madam Keita after months of investigation by members of the Liberia National Police into the alleged.

According to Mr. Carter, the police commenced a “full-scale” investigation in September of 2021 into allegations of bribery involving Madam Keita who was alleged to have been involved with soliciting the US$5m from the South African company.

The Special Presidential Project head was alleged to have invited the South African investors without the knowledge of her bosses at the Executive Mansion.

Predicated upon the investigation and coupled with an allegation of soliciting bribe, the Police Spokesman said a full-scale investigation was set up by police investigators to establish the facts.

According to him, persons of interest were spoken to including Lawrence J. Saydee, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenneh Group of Companies International and Amos Diggs business Manager of the Special Presidential Project at the Executive Mansion.

Police spokesperson Carter said based upon the investigation conducted and face-to-face interviews with persons of interest, the investigation unearthed that Makenneh Keita was not linked to any solicitation of bribe as it was earlier alleged.

However, the police investigation linked two suspects, one of them from the Special Presidential Project to soliciting bribe. The individuals are Lawrence Saydee, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenneh Group of Companies International and Amos Diggs, Business Manager of the Special Presidential Project.

Although the police investigation didn’t establish any probable cause linking Madam Keita to the alleged crime of solicitation of the bride, the investigation recommended for administrative action to be taken against her for acting outside her line of duty by inviting or going into arrangements with a South African company without the knowledge of her bosses.

Two others, Christian Herbert and Mamadee Keita and Dolleh Karto were also exonerated by the investigation from the allegation.

Police investigators who handled the Special Presidential Project probe are Rafell Wilson and Alex Neray from the Crime Services Division.

Adding that the police investigators have therefore resolved to charge Lawrence Sayee and Amos Diggs with the crime of criminal attempt to commit theft of property, bribery, criminal solicitation, and conspiracy. These acts are in violation of Chapter 12 section 12.50, 10.3, and 10.4 of the revised penal code of the Republic of Liberia for allegedly soliciting bribe. The Police say the two suspects are

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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