HERITAGE - EX-MIN. THREATENS CANADIAN INVESTOR WITH LAWSUIT OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATION
February 26 2014
Former Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Eugene Shannon, has threatened legal action against a Canadian investor for accusing former and current officials of the Ministry of being corrupt.
He said investor Leonard Len Lindstrom will be held accountable in court of law to prove the "false allegation" levied against former officials of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, which includes himself.
Dr. Shannon made the threat at a news conference held in Monrovia during the weekend. Shannon said he got in contact with Mr. Lindstrom in Liberia in 2006at the time he was Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, through a Liberian preacher, Rev. James Arku.
He said Mr. Lindstrom applied for ten mineral reconnaissance licenses, covering approximately 22,000 square kilometers, to search for gold and diamond deposits in several parts of Liberia and was granted all of the licenses without hindrance.
Dr. Shannon explained that the new mineral and mining laws approved in2000 interposes no restriction on the number of mineral reconnaissance licenses or exploration licenses a company can acquire, except that each license could not exceed 1,000 square kilometers.
He said during that time only few companies were willing to invest in the Liberian mineral sector and encumbered exploration.
Dr. Shannon pointed that by then, exploration records showed that Liberty Group of Companies owned by Lindstrom had six exploration licenses under its mineral title.
But on January 5 this year, Lindstrom released a book titled: "Corruption 101", in which he chronicled alleged corruption in the Liberian government.
Five days later, the Supreme Court of Liberia ruled in favor of the Canadian investor in a lawsuit he filed against the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy in 2010.
Lindstrom sued the ministry for illegally dispossessing him of land for which he had acquired exploration licenses and reassigning it to other investors.
At the same time, former officials of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (2004-2012) have reacted angrily to media report that they had been blacklisted globally on account that the Canadian investor had tainted their characters.
In a press release signed by signed by Dr. Eugene Shannon, Jonathan A. Mason, Prof. Roosevelt Jayjay, E.C.B. Jones, John C. Nylander, Prof. Albert T. Chie, Gesler E. Murray, Carlton S. Miller and Prof. Emmanuel O. Sherman, they described the article as “comical, ludicrous and of ill-intent”.
They bragged that the international community highly respects the former officials of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy for the capable manner in which they administered the lands, mineral and energy sector during their tenure. They said no international group had and will ever blacklist them.
The former officials then urged the media, with specific reference to the New Vision Newspaper to report responsibly and in accordance with the ethics of journalism, adding that sensational reporting, damages peoples’ hard-earned reputation.
They, therefore, called on the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) to continuously advice some of its members, like the New Vision, to avoid lawsuit from the public.
The MLME ex-officials disclosed that the projects they initiated in 2004, and continued up to 2012, “have brought significant progress to our country, and have enhanced the socio-economic well-being of the people of Liberia”.
These, according to them, include but are not limited to the following: the re-starting of the Nimba mines by Arcelor Mittal, the re-starting of the Bong Mines by China Union and Affiliates, and iron ore exploration and appraisal at Putu in Grand Gedeh County, which has moved the resources from 300 million tons to approximately three billion tons of ore, the release continued.
It said production will begin in the next few years, and iron ore exploration and appraisal at Bomi East Mines, the Western Cluster Iron Ore Deposits are being appraised.
It said gold discovery at the Aureus Mining site in Grand Cape Mount County will lead to hard rock mining by 2015, gold discovery by Hummingbird Resources in Sinoe County will also led to hard gold mining in the next few years, and numerous exploration projects for iron ore, gold diamond, and other minerals by a number of companies throughout the country, the establishment of the Rural and Renewable Energy Agency which supervised the recently-dedicated Yadahun mini-hydroelectric project and many more.
The officials asserted that, along with the Liberian Electricity Corporation, they initiated the emergency power program in the Monrovia area; they also pursued vigorously the cross-border connection of electricity, which is beginning to bring benefit to border towns in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Rivergee and Maryland counties and initiated feasibility studies for the rehabilitation of the Mt. Coffee Hydroelectric Plant. Along with NOCAL they attracted companies to the Liberian up-stream petroleum industry and prepared contemporary regulatory framework and policy instruments such as the national energy policy, the mineral policy, mineral exploration regulations and laid the foundation for the reform of the land sector.
According to the release, Leonard Lindstrom, who had accused them of terminating and cancelling his mineral exploration licenses without cause, is the one who had been blacklisted globally and not them. They said he is a “fugitive” running from law enforcement agencies in Canada, after he has embezzled millions of United States dollars, given to him by investors in Canada.
They disclosed that by 2009 Lindstrom had begun to face problem with the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, as he could no longer pay the government’s license fees and was also incapable of implementing the work programs, as enshrined in his mineral exploration agreement.
They continued that, at that point, Canadian investors had stopped giving him money and he was being investigated by the British Columbia Securities Commission after his fraudulent activities were exposed by investors. They averred that Lindstrom cleverly “chopped” their money, after which (for a while) he stopped paying his Liberian employees.
They said he continued to pay himself US$198,000.00 per year, his son Michael Lindstrom, who did not work for the company, US$168,000.00 annually, and his wife, thousands of US dollars. They stated that he also used investors’ money, meant for the projects in Liberia, to buy a building for himself, at a cost of US$4 million, in Canada.
According to the release, after repeated warning from the ex-officials, to Lindstrom, to settle his financial obligations to the government went without success, the ministry was left with no alternative but to terminate his mineral exploration licenses.
The former officials stated, categorically, that no former official of the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy who served the nation between 2004 and 2012 has been blacklisted globally or has cheated any investor of his funds or mineral licenses, as is being told by Lindstrom.