Thursday, January 16, 2014

FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

Liberia: Government Mute On Corruption 101 Charges

By Henry Karmo, 16 January 2014

Monrovia — In the wake of a series of allegations levied against the Government of Liberia, specifically the Ministry of Lands Mines and Energy by Mr. Len Lindstrom a Canadian investor who recently unveiled widespread corruption in the mining sector, the government is yet to address the issues raised by Lindstrom.

In his just-released book, Corruption 101 Liberia Style, Mr. Lindstrom, President, CEO Liberty International Mineral Corp & Liberty Group of Companies, amongst several things, accused the Liberian government of illegally terminating his company's contract agreement and illegal gave it to other company's despites meeting all the terms and condition require by law.

The book exposes white-collar crime, government corruption and corporate bribery in the case of Liberty vs. the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy and the Government of Liberia.

The book summarizes key events, facts and laws pertaining to the case in the fight for justice in the midst of gross corruption, extortion, economic sabotage, impunity, violation of Court injunctions, bought-off lawyers, tampering with official Court Records, and repeated flagrant assault against the sanctity of the honorable Court of Liberia.

'Have Not Received Opinion'

Lindstrom also accused the Liberian government of also disrespecting court ruling in the case between them and the Government. However, when contacted Wednesday, Minister Patrick Sendolo, declared that he had not received the court opinion in the case.

Said Sendolo: "I have not received the opinion of the Supreme Court to know what the court, said or did not say. So to be able to comment on this I will have to receive and read the court's opinion."

The Supreme Court handed down its opinion in the case last Friday, ruling that the LME acted illegally by arbitrarily revoking the company's licenses without affording it due process.

The court, which is the final arbiter of justice in the country, ruled that the verdict of the trial judge be upheld dismissing the government's assertions that the civil law court does not have jurisdiction over the matter.

"That the ruling of the trial judge granting the appellees' motion for summary judgment and declaring therein that the appellees have been denied their right of due process of law accorded by the constitution of Liberia, the termination of their mining licenses in the absence of such due process rendered the termination illegal, null and void, and of no legal effect is hereby affirmed," stated the court.

The court ruled that the mining and mineral regulation make it mandatory that the ministry, in terminating any mineral and mineral license, state in the letter of termination the right of the licensee to appeal from the ruling, something it said the co-appellant Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy did not state in its letter of termination to the appellees and hence deprived the appellee of the required notice under the law.


Ministry waived rights

The court stated Friday during the handing down of its opinion into the matter after nearly four years of the case, that the act by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, terminating the mineral exploration agreement and the licenses held by the appellees (Liberty Gold and Diamond) was in direct violation of the arbitration provisions of the license agreement between both parties.

The court said by this action the co-appellant ministry waived its right to arbitration; hence, the appellees' petition for the declaratory judgment, in seeking judicial redress against the ministry, was not admissible.

"That the other co-appellant, being in privy with the co-appellant ministry, the agreement which they entered into between them and the said ministry, acting for and on behalf of the government of Liberia, are rendered null and void and of no legal effect: and such third parties are to cease all activities being carried out under said agreements," said the court.

Reading on behalf of the full bench, in the presence of Chief Justice Francis Korpkor, and other associate justices, Associate Justice Phillip Banks, ordered the clerk of the court to send a mandate to the trial court commanding the judge presiding therein to resume jurisdiction over the case and to give effect to the Supreme Court's judgment.

Said the Court: "Having heard the oral legal arguments advanced by the parties, analyzed the fact and circumstances presented by them, and reviewed the written contentions, factual and legal, contained in the briefs submitted by both parties; and being satisfied and convinced, upon the full examination of the records certified to this court, the evidence shown therein, and the applicable and controlling laws, that the trial judge committed no error in granting the appellees' motion for summary judgment and declaring the action of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy as illegal, same being consistent with the right of due process accorded by the constitution of Liberia and in harmony with the statutory and decisional laws of this jurisdiction."

Speaking to FrontPageAfrica following the verdict, the elated head of the company who recently published a book on corruption detailing malpractices that went on at the ministry that led to the cancellation of his company's contract, Mr. Lindstrom said he dreamed of a day like this when justice would finally prevail.

Mount Coffee 2015 completion

Meanwhile, Minister Sendolo has recommitted government to reach its 2015 December 25 deadline for making the Mount Coffey Hydro Power plant up and ready. He made the commitment Wednesday at a special hearing held by the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines and Energy, chaired by Senator Cletus Wortorson (COTOL-Grand Kru County).

At the hearing, Minister Sendolo stressed the issues of theft as one of the major problems the government is faced with and called for stronger policies that will curtail the act. He confirmed that all the money needed to complete the project has been received from committed partners and sectors of the project have been contracted out to other firms to ensure that the December 25, 2015 guideline is met.

Senator Wortorson, chairman on the senate committee stressed on the need for the Ministry in collaboration with its implementing partners to ensure that Liberians are trained and ready to take over the project after it is completed by the company that is currently carrying out the project.