DAILY OBSERVER - CANADIAN INVESTOR RELEASES BOOK ON CORRUPTION IN LIBERIA
CANADIAN INVESTOR RELEASES BOOK ON CORRUPTION IN LIBERIA
Tuesday, January 7 2014
A new book that exposes alleged white collar crime, corporate bribery, and government corruption in the resources sector of Liberia was launched on Sunday, January 5, at a resort in Monrovia.
The book entitled: “Corruption 101: Liberian Style”, was written by Canadian entrepreneur Len Lindstrom.
Mr. Lindstrom is the president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Liberty International Mineral Corporation.
His highly investigative 618-page book focuses on key events, facts and laws pertaining to the case of Liberty versus the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy (MLM&E), and the Government of Liberia. It details Liberty’s fight for justice in the midst of gross corruption, extortion, economic sabotage, and violation of Court Injunctions through bought-off lawyers, tampering with official court records, and repeated flagrant assaults against the sanctity of the courts of Liberia.
The book has over 300 pages of exhibits and is the result of five long years of frustration and immense economic loss for Liberty, a Canadian-based mineral corporation with six subsidiary companies in Liberia.
According to Mr. Lindstrom, Liberty has been repeatedly cheated, manipulated, extorted and lied to by MLME and the government, “despite the fact that Liberty won a clear and decisive judgment in the Civil Law Court on March 11, 2011, wherein the court adjudged that the actions of the MLME were “illegal, irregular, and improper.”
In “Corruption 101: Liberian Style,” it is stated the lower court on two different occasions ordered all Liberty mineral concessions and licenses reinstated and extended; nevertheless, no appropriate response to the explicit orders of the court have been taken.
As documented in the book, Liberty began operations in Liberia in June, 2004, and reportedly paid almost US$1,150,000 in license fees, and aggressively explored its licensed properties with a professional team of up to 24 geologists. These geologists included those seconded by the Ministry. Liberty also hired almost 300 employees and contract workers.
They then discovered 17 potential mineral deposits, only to experience illegal practices along the way including the “illegal termination” of all its licenses and expropriation of its properties, and illegal issuance of its licensed territories to third party companies. These companies reportedly undertook highly unethical practices clearly in direct violation of business law.
Remembering that “it takes two to tango,”--- meaning government corruption cannot flourish without having complicit partners---Lindstrom sheds light on unscrupulous international corporations, which were willing to pay huge bribes and offer substantial hidden shares in their companies in order to violate the rules of fair and honest business.
Among the companies issued licenses illegally were some who later sold the entire project for US$145,000,000 with 10% of the proceeds going to a Liberian resident in the UK who was no doubt acting as the front man or “White Glove” to channel funds back to government officials. Those government officials then arranged and granted the illegal license.
Some of the alleged transactions were catalogued in the book by a “phantom company” operating as a front for a multi-billion dollar gold producer. This company received an illegal license from MLME over Liberty’s Belefunai gold project.
In one of many attempts to settle the matter in an amicable manner without causing greater embarrassment to the government, Len Lindstrom reportedly wrote an 18-page letter to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in March, 2012. The letter, according to the book, was followed by an official visit from the Canadian Ambassador at which time the Liberty case was brought up with the President in a very diplomatic manner.
One year later, (March, 2013,) the Canadian government through the Minister of International Trade and Commerce wrote a very diplomatic and cordial letter to the current Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy in regards to the Liberty situation and the importance of a “predictable framework,” and an “environment in which Canadian companies can continue to invest in the Liberian resource sector with confidence.”
Copies of the letter were delivered to the Ministers of Commerce and Industry, Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs.
To date there has been absolutely no corresponding action by the government to any of these cordial attempts to bring the matter to its justifiable conclusion.
This indicates that there appears to be little concern amongst government officials over flagrant corrupt practices or for the massive amount of damage done to Liberia’s reputation in the international community.
It also displays a lack of concern for the immense damage suffered by the Liberty companies and their hundreds of committed shareholders, and for the hundreds of Liberian employees and workers who lost their jobs with Liberty and now have no source of income and whose families are suffering immense deprivation.
All of this suffering is taking place while the corrupt government officials who were the culprits that exploited and destroyed the Liberty companies continue to enjoy their ill-gotten rewards with absolute impunity.
The book has already been distributed to numerous foreign government officials and ambassadors, various heads of international and humanitarian aid groups, Liberty’s lawyers in Canada. They were also sent to a number of major anti-corruption groups such as Global Witness, Transparency International,Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, as well as to several other major organizations and departments including the Toronto Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange and New York Stock Exchange.
The final outcome of the Liberty case has remained stalled at the court for almost three years. This is because many believe it is extremely difficult for government to pronounce itself guilty.
This entire matter seems to be returning to haunt the Government of Liberia. The documented exposure of such flagrant abuses of power and government-appointed positions serves as a clarion call to all international investors, organizations, and foreign government bodies that Liberia has been--- and unfortunately appears to remain--- a very unsafe and dangerous country to invest in.
“And despite the fact that Liberia is a beautiful country, with millions of warm hearted people,” Mr. Lindstrom states, “ until the country adopts a sincere, transparent and determined mandate to deal with its blatant corruption problems that have unfortunately earned the country the ignoble title of ‘Most Corrupt Nation in the World,’ Mr. Lindstrom concluded.